What a Difference a Year Makes (R)

What a Difference a Year Makes


Chapter 1


Mulder leaned back in the chair.  At least everyone was giving him a wide berth.  The case was over.  His profile had led them to the guy.  There would be no trial; suicide by law officers was a growing trend.  But it was over, nothing left but the paperwork, and that wasn’t his problem.


He should be happy; they’d gotten a dangerous man off the streets - except he didn’t remember how to be happy anymore.  He glanced at the calendar for probably the hundredth time that morning. It wasn’t like he didn’t know the date.  He’d known the date before he’d even awakened this morning.


A year.  It had been a year since she’d disappeared, since Dwaine Barry had taken her to that mountain top and she had vanished, been taken, been abducted.


You know, it was funny; they’d only worked together a little over a year, just slightly longer than she’d been gone.  But it had felt longer.  It had felt like she’d always been in his life. He certainly hadn’t expected it or planned it.  When he’d seen the diminutive redhead for the first time, he’d been amused.  This was the agent they had sent to discredit him?  Instead she had . . . created him.


He had opened up to her, little by little until, without his knowledge, she had become essential to him.  He’d felt incomplete for a year now - more incomplete even than when he was twelve and . . . He had continued to function, handle cases, profile bad guys.  The X-files were off limits to him.  He found that he really didn’t care any more.  He didn’t care about anything actually.


He’d broken into the office once and taken two files - Samantha’s and Scully’s.  They were the only two that mattered to him.  They were carefully hidden at his apartment, well, copies were.  The originals and a second copy were in safe places as well.  He knew the realities of things now - he couldn’t get to the truth, not alone.  Since she was gone . . .


Why the hell was he hanging around here?  He’d submitted his report; he certainly wasn’t in a celebratory mood.  Fuck it.  He grabbed his suit coat off the back of his chair and headed for the door.  He was aware that several people actually flinched as he went past them.


That grimly amused him.  At least it kept everyone at bay.  ‘Spooky’ was in a bad mood, worse than usual.  These idiots had no idea just how bad a mood he was in.  He didn’t bother with dinner; it was too early anyway.  He just wanted out.


He let himself into his apartment, dropping the keys on the table.  The phone rang as he was toeing off his shoes.  He didn’t bother to answer it; the machine would pick up.  Besides he really wanted to be alone tonight.


“Fox, it’s Maggie Scully.”


He closed his eyes then, but still couldn’t force himself to pick up the phone.


“I called the office.  They said you had left for the day.  I’m going to the cemetery in a little while.  I wouldn’t mind some company if you . . . If you don’t want to go alone.”


He leaned back against the wall and sank into a squat.  He couldn’t do it.  He couldn’t.  He wasn’t strong enough.  He’d gone one time, to the memorial service Mrs. Scully had planned.  He’d met Scully’s sister, Melissa, and her older brother, Bill.  Bill had been gruff, withdrawn, as though he wanted to blame someone.  Mulder understood that, but kept his distance.  He felt guilty enough without any ‘help’.


Her other brother had been late.  Mulder hadn’t been able to force himself to stay.  A memorial service presumed that Scully was dead.  He couldn’t make himself accept that any more than he could about Samantha. So he trudged through each day.  He no longer thought about the future.  He lived one day at a time.  He ate when he remembered, and spent a lot of time running and working out. He didn’t get involved in his cases.  He worked them and got out.  It had been that way since Kristen.  Mulder still didn’t understand what had possessed him to have sex with her.  Maybe he’d just wanted to feel alive instead of just breathing, just having his heart beat.  It hadn’t worked.


He grimaced; Kristen had been royally pissed when he’d cried out Scully’s name as he came.  That had surprised him a little too.  They had never been together.  Okay, he had imagined it on occasion.  He knew that if he had been with Scully, it would have been better.


Mrs. Scully had hung up, but he hadn’t even realized it.  He forced himself back to his feet.  He headed into his bedroom to change.  He wanted to get out of here.  She probably wouldn’t call back, but he didn’t want to be here in any case.


He threw on jeans and a t-shirt, checked to make sure her cross was safely around his neck, and grabbed his jacket on the way out.  He pulled out into traffic with no destination in mind.


Mulder drove north, not seeing the scenery.  About ten miles north of the city, he made an abrupt U-turn amid the blaring of horns and screeching of tires.


He didn’t admit it, even to himself, where he was headed until he saw the sign - ‘Ascend to the Stars’.  He took the turn too fast, but managed to keep control of the car.


He hadn’t been here since . . . He’d never come back to this place.  He wasn’t sure why he was here now, but he felt like he should be here.  He took the turns too fast.  There was no reason to race now - she was gone.  She’d been gone a year.


The back of the car fishtailed as he slammed on the brakes.  He threw the car into park and vaulted from the vehicle.  He walked rapidly toward the spot where he had caught up with Dwaine Barry that night a year ago.


Why the hell was he here?  This was somehow better than the cemetery?  He turned, but didn’t move from the spot.  There was no evidence here, not after all this time.  Hell, there hadn’t been any a year -


The blinding light paralyzed him physically.  It came from above him and without warning.  There had been no sound.  There was still no sound, at least not that he could hear, but the hairs had risen on his arm and he seemed to feel a vibration on some level.


He had no idea how long he stood there.  Time seemed to have no meaning.  Then as abruptly as it had begun, the light was gone.  He staggered, but managed to stay on his feet.  What the . . . He sensed that someone was near him before he heard the moan.  Mulder drew his gun from his waistband, and moved toward the sound.


The moon was nearly full and his night vision was beginning to return.  He spotted the body on the ground ahead of him.  It was a woman, curled into a fetal position.  He moved closer, looking around to see who had dropped her here.  He couldn’t see anyone else, so he tucked his gun against his back and bent down to get a better look.


He realized she was nude and shivering.  “It’s gonna be okay.  Help’s here.”


She turned at the sound of his voice and his eyes widened in shock.  If he hadn’t already been on his knees, he would have fallen to them.


“Scully.”  He barely made a sound.


She didn’t react to her name, other than a shiver that ran through her body again.  That brought him back to some semblance of sanity and he jerked his jacket off, wrapping her in it. "Scully, I’m going to get you to a hospital.  Just try to relax.”


She grasped at the jacket, pulling it closer around her.  He reached to take her into his arms and she flinched away. "Scully?  Scully it’s me, it’s Mulder.”


She glanced at him and away, curling tighter in on herself.


Mulder realized her trauma was deeper than he had seen.  “I’m not going to hurt you, Scully.  I need to get you warm.  Let me help you.”


Mulder lifted her into his arms and she didn’t resist.  He murmured reassuring sounds to her as he hurried to the car.  He laid her gently in the back seat and started to move away.  She whimpered when his arms left her.


“I’ll be right back, Scully.  Let me get the heat going.”


Her eyes were large and wet.  He rushed to start the car, then returned to her.  He couldn’t say she knew who he was, but she seemed to recognize the fact that he wasn’t going to hurt her.  “Scully, it’s me.  It’s Mulder.  Do you know me?”


She didn’t respond, holding his jacket tightly around herself.


“Scully, you need to be examined, treated - “


She moaned loudly at those words and scrambled to get away from him.  “Nooooo!”


The sound clutched at his heart.  She was terrified.  The words ‘examined’ and ‘treated’ had thrown her into a panic.


“Okay, okay.  Just relax.  I need to get you inside somewhere.  You’re back, Scully.  It’s going to be okay.”


She shuddered again and he pulled her into his embrace.  She tensed for an instant then relaxed slightly in his arms.  “That’s right, Scully.  I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”  After a moment, “I’ve got to get you off this mountain.  You lie down.  Let me see if I have a blanket in the trunk.”


He lay her down and, when she reached for him, put her hands back on her own chest.  “Just a minute.”


She didn’t take her eyes off of him.  He was back quickly, and shook out the blanket he had stored in his trunk.  He tucked it around her.  She still hadn’t spoken other than that moan when he’d mentioned having her examined.


“Scully, I’ll be right there in the front seat.  You’ll be able to see me, okay?  Try to rest.”


She tensed up immediately.  “I won’t . . . Scully, I’ll get you a room, give you a chance to . . . you don’t have to see anyone else right now.  Lay back.”


She did and after a moment he crawled out and got into the front seat.  Scully whimpered slightly, so he turned around.  “I’m right here, Scully.”


She didn’t nod, but he had the impression that she had relaxed slightly.  He started down the mountain.  His desire to hurry was tempered by the need not to jostle her any more than necessary.  It wasn’t long before her even breathing told him she had fallen asleep.  It wasn’t a peaceful sleep, but when she began to fret he would talk to her.  His voice seemed to soothe her a little.  At the foot of the mountain, he chose a motel a couple of steps above the rooms they usually stayed in.  The Bureau wouldn’t be paying for this and he was going to do better for her than some cockroach infested cardboard room.


To be honest, over the past year he had spent more time with the cockroaches on field assignment than with the temporary partners they’d stuck him with.  And they’d been better company.  He hated to leave her, even to check in, but he had no choice.  He requested a room away from the noise and was given something on the ground floor in the back.  Mulder moved the car as close to the room as he could, then checked it himself. 


There was only a king-size bed.  He hadn’t thought to ask, but it didn’t matter; he wouldn’t be sleeping tonight anyway.  He turned down the bed and turned up the heat, then propped the door open and hurried back to her.


She was agitated when he returned to her, though not fully conscious.  His hand caressing her cheek eased her, and he lifted her into his arms.  He looked around, but there was no one visible, so he carried her to the room and placed her gently on the bed.


Now that he had light, he could examine her himself.  Her pulse was steady and her respiration was normal again.  She didn’t have a fever.


Her face was flawless, not a mark on it, though thinner than when he had last seen her.  He’d never seen her hair this long or curly and couldn’t keep his hand from it.


He hesitated then, but he had to check her out.  He opened his jacket to look for injuries.  He gasped at the bruises and cuts on her torso and arms.  He ached for her, for the pain she had endured.  No wonder she didn’t want to be ‘examined’ by anyone. 


The shapes of the bruises were strange, as though some instrument had been pressed too harshly against her flesh, but he couldn’t think of any purpose for instruments of such shapes.  The cuts were numerous, but shallow.  They made no sense either, except as torture. 


He was aware he was gazing at her nude body and felt shame.  She had never shared her body with him when they had worked together.  He had never asked, knowing she was more special than that to him.  Now he covered her body, but continued his examination of her legs and feet. 


She couldn’t have walked; her feet were raw and bloody.  These wounds had been especially painful.  They had to have been inflicted to keep her prisoner.  The wounds on her ankles and wrists should have made that moot; she’d obviously been bound.


He felt rage build up within.  Whoever had done this to her - 


As though she had sensed his emotions, she moaned again and he forced his thoughts to return to her.  He covered her legs with the sheet and caressed her cheek.  Again she calmed.  Okay, vengeance later.  He rose carefully from the bed and moved into the bath, where he moistened a washcloth and returned to her side.  He cleaned her wounds, though he had no first aid kit available.  His own wounds this past year had been of little interest to him.


“Scully?  Can you hear me?  I need you to wake up.  You need fluids.”  Her eyes fluttered at his words and when he spoke again, opened.


He smiled at her and his face felt strange.  He realized he hadn’t smiled in a very long time.  “I need you to drink some water.”  He elevated her head and held the glass to her lips.  She seemed confused and unable to remember the art of swallowing, but after a couple of tries she seemed to get the hang of it and appeared to savor the feel of the water in her mouth.  He didn’t allow her to drink too much and she didn’t protest anything he did to her.  When he placed the glass back on the bedside table, she watched him.


“I’m going to put some clothes on you, Scully.  Okay?”  Again, no response except to watch him.  He pulled one of his t-shirts from his overnight bag and slipped it over her head.  It was like dressing a doll, but she didn’t resist.


She hadn’t eaten anything, but after the water, he didn’t want to risk it yet.  She would choke on anything solid.


Within moments her eyes were drooping again.  He made her comfortable and watched her drift off.  He pulled the chair closer to the bed and sat, watching her sleep.


His thoughts were roiling, she was alive, she was back but . . . what had been done to her?  Why didn’t she speak?  Did she know who he was, or was she reacting to his . . . his care of her?  When his thoughts became angry, she stirred, so he shoved those thoughts away again.  She was the important thing now.  Once she was well and whole again, he could look at that side of things.  He hadn’t thought he would sleep, he almost never did anymore, but he caught himself dropping off in the chair.  He looked over at the other side of the bed.  It was huge, surely she wouldn’t mind, if she was even aware.


He rose from the uncomfortable chair and stretched.  She didn’t seem to notice his movement.  He stripped off his jeans, they were too dirty to sleep in and his t-shirt, and crawled into the bed, near her but not touching.  He was asleep almost instantly.


He woke the next morning to the feel of her warm breath against his chest.  She was pressed tightly against him and his arms encircled her.


He had never thought to feel this, even when they were together, their relationship had not . . . then she had been gone.  She fit so beautifully against his body.  Then he remembered her injuries and immediately loosened his grip of her.  That seemed to rouse her and she squirmed closer to him.


Again he felt the unfamiliar smile on his face.  “Scully?”


Her eyes opened and she looked startled but not frightened.  He watched as she looked around the room.


“Scully?  Do you know me?  It’s Mulder.”


She looked puzzled for an instant, then “Mu . . . Mu . . .”


“Mulder.  We were partners, Scully.  We were close.  Do you remember me?”


She blinked a few times then, “Mulder.”


“That’s right.”  He knew his smile was huge now, his jaw actually hurt from the unfamiliar movement.  Her hand touched his face and her own lips moved into a smile.


“I bet you’d like a bath.  I’m probably not supposed to know this, but you loved to soak in a warm bath when you got home at night.”


Again she looked confused for an instant, and then her eyes lightened.


“I’ll run the water for you.”  He rose from the bed and her hand reached for him.  “I’ll just be a minute, then I’ll carry you in.”  He used the facilities quickly and started her bath.  He didn’t add any of the oils or bubbles that were available, fearing they would sting her many cuts and abrasions.


She was watching the door when he emerged and seemed to sigh at the sight of him.  He carefully picked her up and carried her to the bathroom.  It occurred to him that he didn’t know to what extent she needed assistance, but this was Scully.  Whatever she needed, he would supply.


He tested the water, then turned to her.  “I need to undress you, Scully.”


She blinked but didn’t demur.  He reached for the hem of his t-shirt and carefully lifted it over his head.  The sight of her body astounded him.  There wasn’t a bruise or a cut to be seen.  Was he losing his mind?  Had he dreamed the wounds?  No, no her feet had been cut and bloody.  He’d seen the stain her feet had left on the sheets before he cleaned them.


“Mu . . . Mulder?”


“It’s okay.  Let’s get you in the tub.”  He was rattled but she didn’t need to see that.


Maybe she could walk.  He helped her to her feet.  She stood there leaning against him.  Okay, she wasn’t herself, but that didn’t make her any less physically desirable.  Did she know what she was doing to him?


He took a deep breath, burying his libido down deep and lifted her into the tub.  She seemed surprised, but also enjoyed the sensation.  She made no move to pick up the washcloth.  “Scully, do you, do you want me to bathe you?”


She blinked, watching him. 


“Yeah, okay.”  He took another breath and took the washcloth into his hand.


She accepted his touch and he was grateful he was kneeling beside the tub, part of his anatomy hidden from her.  He even washed her hair, which seemed to cause a sound like a purr to emanate from her.  The sound went straight to his cock.  He was going to need some time alone and soon.


When he helped her to her feet, he gazed at her body.  God, this was harder than he’d imagined.  She seemed completely unaware of what she was doing to him. 


Walking still seemed unfamiliar to her, so he wrapped the towel around her and took her back to the bedroom.  He found another t-shirt and slipped it over her, covering her from his sight.  The knock on the door startled him, but she had no reaction.


He checked and opened the door to allow the waiter to enter with their breakfast.  He’d completely forgotten ordering it.  After the boy left, he returned to her side.  “You’ve got to be hungry.  I thought this would be light enough.”


She neither agreed nor disagreed, just watched him.  He ended up feeding her, though at the end she did use the fork and fed the last of the eggs to herself.  She chewed slowly as though rediscovering the sensation.


“Scully, you need some things, clothes.  I’ll have to run out to get them, but I’ll just be a little while.  Okay?  Will you be all right?”


There was no response and his concern over her mental state went up.  He didn’t want to leave her alone, but he had to get her some clothing and make some decisions.


He rose from the bed, moved to the far side of the room and pulled out his cell phone.  Watching her, he asked to speak to Assistant Director Skinner.




“It’s Agent Mulder.  I . . . I was wondering if I could, could arrange for some leave time?”


Skinner hesitated, leave time?  Mulder?  “Are you working on anything currently?”


“No sir.  We wrapped up the case I was on.”


“Oh yes, the case in Baltimore.  You did a good job.”




“How much time are you talking about?”


“Couple of weeks, maybe a little more.”


“That shouldn’t be a problem.  Will you be available if they need more on your report?”


“I’ll check in.”


“Going out of town?”


Mulder knew this was just small talk, not prying and for the first time . . . the first time in a year, he took no offense.


“Yeah, I need to get away.” 


“I think that’s a good idea, Mulder.  You deserve it.  Let me know when you’re back - if you take more than the two weeks, we’ll need to know.”


“Yes sir.  Thank you.”  Mulder broke the connection.


Skinner leaned back in his chair.  That had been a surprise.  They usually had to threaten the man to get him off the premises.  He was different since Scully had disappeared - more sardonic, less social if that was possible, and just more withdrawn.  Maybe this would be good for him.  Skinner flipped  his calendar to note when Mulder was expected back, then let it fall back to today.  He stared at the date, and the light dawned on him.


A year, Agent Scully had been missing a year yesterday.  He sighed, then shoved it aside, Mulder had to handle this himself.  Skinner hoped he handled it well.


Mulder looked over at Scully.  She hadn’t taken her eyes off of him.  He took a seat beside her on the bed.  “Scully, are you okay with me leaving you alone for a little while?”


Her brow creased, and he wondered if she even understood.  He had few choices here, she needed some things.


“Okay then.  You’ll stay here.  Don’t answer the door, just wait for me.”  He hesitated, but the sooner he left, the sooner he could get back to her.  He pressed his lips against her forehead, then rose and, after placing the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, hurried to his car.


He found a K-Mart close by and picked up the basics.  He hadn’t bought women’s underwear before, but he had a fairly good idea of her size.  She could buy herself more later.  He also remembered to pick up a toothbrush, hair brush and some of that apple shampoo he remembered she liked.  He was probably forgetting something, but he had two complete outfits and all the toiletries he could think of.  He picked up some lunch and hurried back to her.


He grabbed all of the bags and hurried to the room.  He swiped the card and managed not to drop anything opening the door.  He did lose his grip on everything when he realized she wasn’t in the room.  “Scully!”


Blind panic took him and he raced to the bathroom.  “Scully!”


He heard the whimper and his head whipped toward the tub.  She was there, curled in on herself and trembling violently. 


“Scully, Scully I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have left you.  Scully, Baby, let me hold you.”  He lifted her from the tub, holding her close to him.  He returned her to the bed, but didn’t leave her.  She was clutching him with all her might.


“I’m here, Scully.  I won’t leave you again.”


“Mulder?  Is it the real you?”


He looked down stunned.  She hadn’t spoken more than his name before.


“Yes, Scully.  It’s really me; you’re home.”


“Home?”  Her voice broke and her fingers touched his face in wonder.




“I thought it was another one of their scenarios, their games.”


“Their games?”  He pulled her closer, ignoring the fact that they hadn’t had this relationship before she was taken.


She nodded, tears spilling out of her eyes.


“It’s okay.  You’re safe.”  He was rocking her now and could feel the tension leaving her body.  They sat there, holding each other for a long time.  She was the one that finally moved away, sitting up.  He longed to pull her back against him, but held off.


“I’m . . . I’m sorry.  It’s the games.”


“Don’t apologize, Scully.  Look, you should eat a little, then we can talk.”


She nodded and moved out of his lap.  He got the lunch he had gotten them from the pile of bags on the floor and brought it to her.


“It’s real food.”  She touched it, smelled it.  “Those were real eggs we had at breakfast.”


He nodded, not understanding.  She brought the sandwich to her mouth and took a small bite.  The look of delight brought a smile to his face.  “I guess I made the right decision.”


Her mouth was full, so she only smiled.  He got his own sandwich and ate with her, pouring her some tea into a glass.  She savored each bite and he savored the sight of her.  Her mind seemed intact now and his relief was incredible.


When they had finished, he cleaned up and placed the other bags on the bed.  “I got you some clothes.  I hope I got the right sizes.”


He glanced up to see her face go scarlet and her eyes widened.  “You bathed me.  It was you, not . . . oh my god.”


“Scully, its okay.”


 “I thought it was them, another . . . “


“Game?  Scully, what kind of game?  What are you talking about?”


“I . . . “  This was shaking her.


“It’s okay.  We can talk later.  You want to try out the clothes?”


She looked down at the t-shirt she was wearing.  It was obviously his and he had dressed her in it.  “Uh, yeah.  Thanks.”  She rose from the bed and tested her ability to walk, then gathered up the bags and walked carefully to the bathroom.


He watched her leave and sagged back against the headboard.  What the hell had gone on with her?  After a moment he rose and finished straightening up the room, pulling the covers straight on the bed.


He turned, as the door opened, to see her.  He’d done a good job, the clothes seemed to fit, though she needed to roll up the legs on the jeans.  She smiled shyly.


“I do okay?”


“Yeah, a little too good.”


He looked puzzled at that.


“How did you know all of my sizes?”


“Oh,” he grinned, “I’m a special agent with the FBI.  I notice things.”


“Well, you’re special.”  She turned from him as he stared at her, stunned at those words.


She returned in a moment, brushing her hair.  She twisted it in her hand and looked up at him.  “Mulder, how long have they been playing these games?”


“What, what’s the last thing you remember, Scully?”


“Duane Barry.  He broke into my apartment while I was leaving you a message.  He put me in the trunk of his car.”


Mulder winced at the memory.




“Yeah.  I didn’t get the message in time.”


She’d seen that look before, Mulder taking on the guilt of the world.  “You found me, Mulder.  Did you get Duane Barry?  Talk to me, Mulder.”


“We got him.”  He stopped again and she moved to him, placing her hand on his arm.  “Scully, I didn’t rescue you.  I found you, you were returned.  I didn’t . . . I couldn’t . . . “


“Mulder, how long?”


He looked at her for a long moment, “A year, yesterday.”


“A . . . a year?”  She paled and he reached out for her.  “It can’t be a year.  Mulder, my family . . . “ 


He nodded, “I haven’t told anyone I found you.”


She looked at him, “Good.  I can’t do this by phone.”


“Do you want me to take you to your mother’s?  It’s not that far.”


She hesitated, “Would you think I was crazy if I said no?  I need, I need some time to absorb this.”


“I understand.  I couldn’t . . . I needed time too.” 


She sank down on the bed, her hand playing with her hair.  This explained the length.  “A year.”  He nodded.  “I guess I don’t have an apartment anymore.”


“No.  Your mother has most of your stuff.”


“Most of it?”


“I . . . I have a couple of things.”


She looked a little surprised at that.  “What?”


“Uh, your bed.  I didn’t have one.”


“You have my bed?”


“You can have it back.  I mean . . . “


She chuckled unexpectedly, which startled him, then he smiled.  “Do you mind?”


He saw the color suffuse her face.  It took him a second to realize she was blushing. “We, uh, we can talk about that later.  You, you needed a bed.”


“Well, uh,” things hadn’t been this awkward before, “do you want to stay here, or . . . “


“I need some time.  I need to know what’s happened, sort out . . . things.”


“I’d like to know what you mean about the ‘games’.”


She met his eyes and after a moment nodded.  “I’d like to get away from here, do you know of any place . . . “


“I don’t think my apartment would be a good idea.  There is a place though.  I thought, if you weren’t okay . . .”


That surprised her, “You were thinking of a place?”


“You weren’t yourself Scully.  I didn’t know . . . I wanted to keep you safe, but when I used the word ‘examine’, you . . . “


She shivered at that, and changed the subject.  “Aren’t you missing work?”


He shook his head, “I called in this morning, took a two week leave.”


“You took a leave?”


“What is this?  I take vacations.”


“When?” she demanded.


“It’s been a little while,” he conceded.  “That’s not the point.  You wanted a place to go to get your act together.  I know a place.”


A look of unease came over her face.




“I’m not sure I’m ready to be alone.”


“Oh, I didn’t mean . . . “


She seemed to relax then, “That’s why you took the time off.”


“Well, yeah.  If you don’t . . . last night and this morning you seemed . . . “


“Where were you thinking?” 


“My family has a lake house, in Rhode Island.  We don’t use it anymore.  I don’t know the last time anyone was there, but it would be private.”


She nodded.  “Mom, is she, is she okay?”


“She a very strong woman, but she misses you.  I don’t see her as often as I should, it’s been hard.  When you are ready, she’ll be over the moon.”


“We should get out of here.”


He watched her.  He could see some of her mother’s strength and envied it a little.  She stood and began gathering her things to put in one bag, packing.  Mulder called down to the desk to check out.  This way no one would see her.




Chapter 2


She was steadier now than at any time since he’s found her on the ground last night, but she still didn’t want to talk about it.  She was quiet and he respected that, though he found himself glancing over at her often.


His attempts at conversation fell flat and he was beginning to feel uncomfortable when he felt her fingers pull his right hand from the wheel.  She entwined their grip and squeezed.  He returned the pressure, then settled her hand on his thigh, holding it with his own.


The quiet was comfortable after that.  She was with him and he felt . . . he felt whole.  Stupid word, but it fit.  This was the best he’d felt in a lot more than a year.


It was dark when they arrived.  They’d stopped once for dinner, but both were anxious to reach their location.  Mulder used his flashlight to get the power on, then gave Scully the short tour, removing the dustsheets as he went.


“Mulder, there’s only one bedroom?  Where did you sleep?”


“Samantha and I had the loft.”  He pointed to the open area above them.  It was empty now.


“I don’t think you’ll fit anymore.”


He grinned, “Wasn’t planning to.  I’ll sleep on the couch.”


“That couch?”  She turned toward it.  He shrugged.  She looked into the bedroom.  The bed was a lot smaller than the one from last night.  “You could sleep in here with me.”


“That’s -  “


“It’s not an invitation to jump me, Mulder.”  A small smile played around her lips.


“Shucks, ma’am.  I know how to behave myself.”  But he leered at her. 


Scully rolled her eyes and moved into the bedroom.  “Now that felt familiar.”


“Scully, really, I can sleep out here.”


“There’s no need.  I trust you.  I am tired though, mind if I get ready for bed?”


“Go ahead.  There’s not a lot of wild night life around here.”


She nodded and closed the door.  He stepped toward it, touching the wood, and then leaned his head against it.  The same thought returned that had played in his mind since he’d found her - she was back, she was safe, she was with him.


He took the sheets outside and shook them.  The place needed a good airing out tomorrow.  He turned when he heard the door open.


“Mulder?”  She spotted him and seemed to relax a little. 


“Yeah, just getting a little of the dust outside.  You okay?”




But he heard the tremor in her voice.  He still had no idea what she’d been through, she hadn’t wanted to talk yet.  Rather than dwell on it, he decided to change the subject.


“You ready for bed?”


She nodded, thankful he’d moved on.  “It’s a, uh, it’s a nice nightgown.”  She looked down at the silky green gown.


“It was my third choice.”




“I know how to behave, but it’s not always my first inclination with a beautiful woman.”


She blushed, but smiled, “Beautiful?”


He nodded.  They looked at each other for a long moment.  “So, uh, you through in the bathroom?”


She nodded and moved out of his way.


While he was getting ready for bed, she looked around the place.  It wasn’t large.  The kitchen was compact and led into the main room.  There was a large stone fireplace with built-in bookcases on either side.  The books were dated, and some were obviously Samantha’s.  There was a sofa, much too small for him to stretch out, and a couple of chairs.  The bedroom was on the other side of the fireplace from the kitchen.  The loft was over the main room away from the kitchen. The small bathroom, with only a shower, was off the kitchen.  A screened in porch ran the length of the house.


She hadn’t heard him come up behind her, and jumped slightly when he touched her arm.  “Sorry.  Exploring the place?”


“Yeah.  How come you’ve never mentioned it?”


“I’ve only come up here once since I returned from England.  We probably only came two or three times since Samantha . . . “


She nodded and glanced at him.  He was wearing pajamas bottoms, yellow ones, but no shirt.  “I didn’t pack for a long trip.”


“It’s okay.”  She looked away.  “No TV?”


“No.”  He sounded miserable and she smiled.  “The reception sucks up here, and we never brought a VCR.”


“So we go on to bed?”


“Do you mind?”


“I said I didn’t.  Really, it’s okay.”


He followed her into the bedroom, allowing her to choose a side of the bed.  “Hope I don’t snore,” he commented.


“You don’t.”  She blushed immediately, “I’ve . . . some of the places we’ve stayed had thin walls.”


He nodded.


It was a small bed, but they seemed to have plenty of room, finally falling asleep with their backs to each other.


They woke entwined in the middle of the bed.  He woke first to the feelings of her warm breath on his chest once again.  Without thought he pressed his lips to the top of her head.  The movement brought a sigh from her, and she cuddled in closer though she didn’t wake.


She seemed secure, comfortable in his arms, as though this was familiar to her.  His smile faded slightly - he wanted this woman.  No, no it was more than that.  He loved this woman.


He’d avoided that thought for over a year, but now it was there, unshakeable.  They’d learned each other in the time they had worked together, but it was when they had been separated by the powers that be that they had . . . had bonded.  At least it was true for him.  Watching her sleep peacefully in his arms gave him hope that she felt the same.


He had never loved a woman before, and it scared him, scared him on a deep abandonment issues level.  She was comfortable here beside him, but could she love him?  He was Spooky Mulder.  He felt his mood plummet.  She seemed to sense it, stirring in his arms.  “Mulder?”




“I’m sorry.”  She didn’t know what was wrong, but he seemed upset.  She moved to leave his arms, but they tightened around her for an instant.


“Mulder, is something wrong?”


“No.  I guess I was afraid you’d be upset, you know . . . “  He indicated their positions and she seemed to realize for the first time where they were.


He felt her sudden discomfort and allowed her to move away from him.


He took a breath and rose from the bed, keeping his back to her.  “I’ll, uh . . . “


“Sure.”  She watched him leave the room, confused and hurt.


He seemed more himself when he found her in the living room.  “We need some supplies if we’re going to stay here.  Why don’t I run get some breakfast and things while you shower?  Maybe there’ll be hot water when I get back.”


“Okay.  I’ll try to leave you some water.”  She smiled and watched him disappear into the bedroom.  The smile faded when he was out of sight.  What had happened?  Had she said something in her sleep?


He emerged quickly.  “I shouldn’t be long.”  He didn’t approach her, just letting himself out.  She stood undecided for a moment, then headed for the bathroom.




He had their breakfast in one hand and a grocery bag in the other when he let himself in.  He spotted her on the couch, curled in on herself, knees drawn up to her chin.  He slipped their breakfast on the table and let the supplies fall to the floor.


“Scully?  What?  Did something happen?”  He was beside her now on the couch and after a moment’s hesitation, pulled her against him.  “Scully?”


“I’m . . . I’m okay.”


“No, you’re not.  Talk to me.”


“It’s just,” she shrugged, “It’s better when you’re here.”


That statement caused his eyes to widen.  “Me?”


“I’m sorry.”  She pulled away from him and he wasn’t sure what he should do.


“I, uh, I brought you a sausage biscuit and coffee.”


“Thanks.”  She reached for her coffee and forced her hands to steady.  He watched her, not sure how to help her.


They ate their breakfast, then he rose.  “I guess the hot water’s back.  Mind if I take a quick shower?”


“Course not.  I’ll put away the groceries.”


He nodded and left her.  He knew he was handling this wrong.  How did he explain that everything had changed over a year.  She hadn’t even realized she’d been gone that long.  How could she understand he’d thought about her differently since she’d been gone?  No, he needed to put this aside.  She needed stability, security so that she could feel safe, so that she could come back completely.


He came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist.  He hadn’t thought to take clothes with him.  She looked up to speak, but the sight of him stopped her.


“Uh, sorry.”


“It’s okay.  Go on.”  She watched him leave her.  She was still feeling her way.  A year, she believed him, she could see that he was older, sadder.  Had he missed her?  That was stupid, they’d become friends.  She relied on him - oh god, he wasn’t taking the blame for her disappearance, was he?  Scully hurried to the door and opened it without knocking.  He turned from her quickly and pulled up his zipper.




“I . . . I’m sorry.  I just . . . I’m sorry.”  She retreated from the room.


He threw on the cleaner of his t-shirts and hurried after her.  “Scully, its okay.”


She shook her head, “I don’t . . . “ She sank onto the couch.


“We need to talk, Scully.”


That brought a look of fright to her eyes.


“Look, I bought the ingredients to make chili; it’s kind of a tradition up here.  Want to help me get it started?  Maybe then we could go for a walk.”




She washed out the pot and the utensils while he got the ingredients together.  Once things were simmering, he washed his hands and turned to her.  “Go see the lake?”




He followed her outside, then led her to the lake.  Things had grown up since he had been here, but the path was still easy to follow.  He tested the dock, then let her join him and took a seat. 


She sat beside him.  “It’s beautiful here.” 


“Yeah.  I guess I’d forgotten.”  He looked over at her.  “Scully, we need to talk about this, about what happened to you.  We’ve put it off long enough.”


“I know.”


“You want to start?”


She shook her head, “Tell me what happened.  Tell me about Duane Barry.”


He watched her for a long moment, then nodded.  He talked for a long time.  He caressed the tears from her cheeks on a couple of occasions.  She asked no questions, letting him tell it his way.  That was different, but he didn’t comment on it.


When he finally ran down, she looked up at him.  “Mom must have been . . . “


“She was devastated, but strong.  She even tried to help me through it when I let her.”  She looked puzzled.  “I . . . I kinda kept to myself.  I wasn’t very good company.”


“That’s what families are for, Mulder.”


“Maybe yours.  I didn’t want to intrude.”


Scully didn’t call him on it.  She knew he would have retreated into himself.  “You know none of this is your fault.”


He jerked back from her, but she put her hand out, laying it gently on his arm.  “It’s true, Mulder.  Duane Barry took me, some . . . someone else took me from him.  You tried to find me.  Now I’m back, you did find me.”


“I -  “


“Mulder, if you hadn’t come to the mountain that night, I probably would have died, of exposure.  I don’t know what brought you there, but you saved my life.” 


He opened his mouth to protest, but her fingers pressed against his lips.  “You saved my life.”


“You want to tell me what happened from your side?”


The shake of her head was almost imperceptible.




She rose to her feet and brushed off her bottom.  His eyes locked on her ass for a moment before he could stop himself.  Then he scrambled to his feet as she left the dock.  He caught up with her and let his hand brush hers.  She grasped his hand though she refused to look at him. 


What had happened to her?  What did she remember?  He let her into the house; they could smell the chili and once inside could hear it bubbling. 


“I better check on that.”  She nodded and moved past him into the bathroom.  He wanted to call her back and hold her, but he wasn’t good at that kind of thing.  Maybe this was a bad idea.  He should have taken her to her mother.


When she emerged she seemed more composed.  “The chili’s almost ready.”  She murmured something and moved past him into the living room.  He followed as she made her way to the couch.  He saw she was trembling slightly.  “Are you cold, Scully?”


She shrugged, watching her hands.


“How about a fire?”


“Do you mind?”


“Of course not.  Just relax.”  He laid the fire quickly and lit it, taking a seat at her feet.  “You should warm up now.  Do you want me to dish up the chili?”


“I should help.”


“Not this time.  I’m saving you for clean up.”  He smiled at her. 


She managed to return it, but it dropped away.  He rose and headed to the kitchen.


He was back quickly with her bowl of chili and a basket of crackers, then got his own bowl and two beers.  He wasn’t sure about the alcohol, but she needed to relax and the most available to her were three bottles.


After a few moments, she looked over at him.  “This is good.” 


“My one culinary achievement.” She managed to chuckle.  “What?  You don’t believe me?”


“I always thought the speed dial on your phone was your culinary achievement.”


“That’s cold, Agent Scully.”


She actually laughed then, which brought a smile to his face.  He decided not to push things for now.


She didn’t want seconds, so he only got her another beer when he refilled his own bowl.


“Trying to get me drunk?” 


“Don’t need to, you’re already sleeping with me.”  He grinned at her.


“Yeah, right.”  She gazed into the fire.


“Scully, you know I was kidding.”


“What?  Oh, I didn’t . . . you want to know what happened.” 


“Do you remember anything?” 


Scully took a deep breath, “I remember everything.  That’s the problem.” 


“Maybe it’ll help to talk about it.” 


Instead of answering, she took a long drink from her beer bottle.  She didn’t take her eyes from the fire.  “Duane Barry was more frightened than he was evil.  He was scared to death.  He had me bound when we got to Skyland Mountain, and he didn’t untie me, just pulled me along.  It was like he had an appointment and he didn’t dare be late.  I couldn’t see anything different about where we were heading, but he shoved me down and ran away from me as fast as he could.  Before I could get to my feet, there was a light - the brightest light I’ve ever seen. 


“The next thing I knew I was on a . . . I guess you could call it a table, but it was more like an examining table in a doctor’s office.  It wasn’t padded, more molded to me.  All I could move was my head.  I couldn’t see any restraints, but I couldn’t move at all, as though I was paralyzed.  I was nude.” 


She felt Mulder’s look, but didn’t meet it.


“They ran tests on me, painful tests.  I remember them all.  Mulder, I never saw them, I don’t know who, or what, was doing it.


“Then Alan came.”




“He was the man I was seeing in undergraduate school.  That’s when the scenarios, the mind games started.  I didn’t realize it, I was probably drugged.  Alan only came the one time, I guess they didn’t like him either.  Then Daniel.” 


Mulder flinched, he’d never heard these names, but they obviously were men that had meant something to her.  They’d been inside of her mind, and these were the men that populated her thoughts.  He swallowed; he needed to hear this.  Anyway, this wasn’t about him. 


“I’m not sure how many times they used Daniel’s image.  I didn’t know they were images at the time.”


Mulder didn’t interrupt.


“After a while, Jack was there.”  Mulder winced, but she didn’t notice.  “There were a couple of scenes with him, then Daniel was back.” 


This Daniel must have been very important to her.  He opened his mouth, but she continued.  “Then Daniel was gone again and there were no scenes.”  She looked over at him, “You remember, I didn’t know they were games.  When these men were with me, I just thought they were with me.” 


He nodded, was she . . . apologizing? 


“There were more tests then.”  Her gaze went inward.  He wanted to touch her, comfort her, but wasn’t sure if that would make things better or worse. 


“Then . . . then you were there.” 


“Me?”  He couldn’t help blurting that out. 


She didn’t seem to hear him.  “After that all the scenarios, all the mind games were with you.”  She fell silent.  He waited for a few minutes, then moved closer to her on the couch, still not quite touching her. 


“Scully, those other men, they were your lovers?” 


She nodded. 


“But you and I . . . “ 


She shrugged, “The difference seemed to be that I loved you.” 


His mouth fell open at those words.  She loved him?  When had she decided that?  Of course, he hadn’t admitted to himself that he loved her until she was gone. 


“I’m sorry, I -  “ 


“No!  Don’t be sorry, please don’t be sorry.” 


“I didn’t understand what was going on.  I believed I was with you.  I thought we were, were growing closer.”


“Did we become lovers?” 


She nodded, looking down at her feet. 


“Scully, was that a bad thing?” 


She looked up startled, “I was using you.” 


“I’m not complaining ,Scully.” 


She gave him a weak smile. 


“What were the games?” 


“We were . . . together.  Sometimes we were at work, sometimes in one of our apartments, other places.”  She fell silent again. 


“How did you realize it wasn’t real?” 


“One of the games . . . it was too real.” 


“What happened?”  She hesitated still, and he took her hand. 


That brought a thoughtful look to her face.  “I was . . . I was in labor.  I was giving birth to our baby, and the, the pain was too . . . it threw me back to that table.  You weren’t there, I could only sense them.”  She fell silent again. 


“Did, did the pain go away?” 


She shook her head.  “They did something to send me back into the scenario.  You were back.” 


“You had the baby?”  She nodded.  “Did you see it?” 


She blinked  at that.  “Uh, no.  I felt the birth, but then the scenario changed.  The next game . . . there was no baby in any game after that.  Then I remembered it, and that I’d really been on that table, not with you.  Throughout the whole pregnancy when we . . . it wasn’t real.  I started testing it then, when I could remember.  I couldn’t touch you after that, unless I concentrated.  I realized I didn’t have to speak out loud and you’d still hear me.  I guess I . . . I quit participating.  The scenarios became less and less real.” 


“When you caught on, they couldn’t use you any more.  How long have you not been playing?” 


“I thought it was . . . Mulder, I can’t grasp that I’ve been gone a year.” 


“It was a year, Scully.  A long year.” 


She didn’t respond to that.  He tilted her face up to him.  “Scully?” 


“I didn’t know it was really you, in the car, in the hotel room.  That’s why I didn’t speak, didn’t try to walk.  But I felt your arms around me, I tasted the eggs you fed me.  I felt the water in the tub when you bathed me.  When you left, to get my clothes, it didn’t stop.  That’s . . . that’s when I realized it might be real.  But you were gone, and . . . and I panicked.  I didn’t know if -  “ 


“I’m right here Scully.  This is real and I’m not going anywhere.”  He caught the tear that escaped her eye.  “Scully, that’s enough for now.  You’ve been through . . . why don’t you lie down for a little while.” 


She looked deeply into his eyes and then rose.  He had his arm around her immediately and walked her to the bedroom.  He lay her on the bed and pulled up the afghan lying at the foot of the bed.  “I’m supposed to be on kitchen duty.” 


“I’ll let you off this once.  Scully, you’ve been through something, I want you to rest.” 


“Are you going anywhere?” 


‘No.  I’ll do your chores, then I might even come join you.” 


She gave him a quick smile, then rolled onto her side. He left the room, closing the door quietly behind him. 


He took the dishes into the kitchen and washed them, then straightened up the rest of the kitchen, but his mind was racing.  They had taken her, used her, bred her.  He fell back against the counter.  She had been pregnant, she had given birth -  and they had used him to keep her . . . what?  Complacent? 


Why?  Why had they done this to her?  He shook his head trying to clear it.  He realized he had moved back toward the bedroom.  He opened the door quietly.  She was asleep, but seemed to be dreaming.  The need to touch her overcame him. 


He slipped off his shoes and lay down beside her, spooning around her.  She seemed to sigh and relax back against him.  He let his hand rest against her abdomen. 


She woke a little later to the comfort of him around her.  “How do you feel?” 




“Good.”  He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. 


“Mulder?  What?” 


“These other men, Alan, Daniel, they were your lovers.  Jack.”  She nodded.  “But it was me . . . “ 


She pulled his face down to her and kissed him.  She drew back quickly.  “I’m sorry.  My, my memories are mixed up with - “  His lips cut her off that time. 


“Mulder, you don’t -  “


“I think I started falling in love with you when you came to my room that night in Oregon.  You were scared, but not of me.  It was a new feeling.  I mean, I’d had partners before, but none that trusted me, none that would have sought me out.  I still remember the . . . the terror when I listened to Tom Colton tell you he would help you get away from me.” 


“I didn’t go.  I didn’t want to go.” 


Mulder managed to smile. “I’m still processing that.” 


Her hand came up to lightly touch his cheek, as though still making sure he was real, solid.  He brought his lips down to hers again and this kiss continued, both participating fully and enthusiastically.  Clothing was rearranged and discarded.   


It wasn’t until her hand began fumbling with his zipper that he pulled back.  “Scully, Scully wait.  I . . .” He had to clear his throat, “We can’t.  I don’t have any protection here.” 


“You don’t carry . . . “ 


“Scully, the women in the videos don’t usually need it.” 


She gave him a weak smile, “But Mulder . . . “ 


“I, uh . . . “ He moved away from her in the bed and tried to bring his breathing under control.  “Listen, we could use some more supplies.  I know you’d like some more clothes and we need to do laundry.  We could pick up some, some protection then.”  He tried to make it a question, could he just assume that this woman really wanted to make love with him?  Well, she was certainly acting like . . .  


“We could go now.”  She was already rising from the bed.  He looked at her startled.  “We could find a laundry and put the clothes on to wash, then get our supplies and come back here.” 


“Uh, yeah.”  She had taken charge and he had no grounds for complaint.  She tossed him his t-shirt.  “Come on.” 


He didn’t argue, slipping the shirt on, then helping her gather the laundry, more than a little bemused. 


He didn’t say much watching this activity on her part, his mind still reeling from the activity he’d had to stop. 




He’d never ‘shopped’ with Scully before.  She was as efficient there as with everything else she did, picking out a couple of shirts for him as well as her own clothing.  And they looked better than what he would have chosen. 


When they ended up in the pharmaceutical area, his lips twitched watching her study the display.  He didn’t care what she picked out - hell they could be glow-in-the-dark pink if that’s what she chose.  She had seemed to make her selection and leaned down to look. 


“Scully, are you getting a dozen?”  He was watching her, move boxes. 


“The box of thirty-six I think.” 


He gaped at her for a moment, then asked quietly.  “Scully, what if I’m not that good?” 


“Then I’ll have to train you.  We’ll need extras, you know, like additional ammo at the firing range.” 


His mind tilted at that analogy and she watched with a . . . a different kind of smile on her face.  “Mulder, I’m not worried.” 


Rather than wait on the clothes to dry, they took them back to the house to dry in front of the fire.  They made short work of the laundry and then she was tugging him toward the bedroom. 




He collapsed, pulling her on top of him, holding her close as she came back to him. 






“You okay?” 


She nodded against his chest.  “You don’t need any tutoring.” 


He let his finger trace her cheekbone.  “That’s good to hear.” 


She was limp against him, completely relaxed, sated.  He had satisfied Dana Scully.  He thought he’d loved her before, now . . . 


“You know, we could just stay here, forever,” he murmured into her  hair. 


“I could go for that right about now.”  He smiled broadly, then her eyes opened wide, remembering. 


“I don’t have an apartment.” 


“I do, but maybe we should get one.” 


She grinned, “You think we should live together?” 


“Well, we could try it out for a little while, see if you can put up with me.” 


“What’s a ‘little while’?” 


“I don’t know, 60-70 years. Just long enough for you to realize what a prize I am.” 


She laughed then, “and if I already  know?” 


“Even better.  We should get a two bedroom.” 




 “Yeah, my couch won’t go with your stuff, so we could stick it in an office.” 


“Along with your video collection?” 


Frohike’s video collections.” 


“Good answer, Mulder.”  She brushed her fingers through his chest hair, outlining his nipples, wanting him again.  His hiss brought a smile to her face. 


But even now, with her here, safe in his arms, he knew she was going to need a lot more healing.  The ‘games’ weren’t gone from her mind, but she was denying the implications.  He needed to be there, when that no longer worked.


Chapter 3


He woke slowly and reached for her.  She wasn’t in the bed.  Where . . . he always woke up before she did.  It was one of the highlights of his day, watching her sleep unawares.  It was barely light outside.  Where was she?


He rose from the bed and looked around for his boxers.  He found them on the floor on her side of the bed and smiled slightly at the memory that invoked.  He slipped them on and went to find her.


She was on the couch and he saw immediately that she was crying.  “Scully?”  He hurried toward her and she brushed away a tear.  “Are you . . . did I hurt you?”


She smiled through her tears then, so typical of him to take blame.


“You never hurt me, Mulder.”


He knew about a thousand ways to dispute that, but what was making her cry?


“Talk to me, Scully.”


“This has to end; I have to face my family.  I have to start my life again.  I’m . . . I’m afraid.”


“You won’t be alone.”


She looked at him then, “A year, Mulder.  I can’t ever get that back.”


“I know,” he let a knuckle caress her cheek.  “But think how happy everyone will be to see you, your mother, your family.”


“They’re not going to believe . . .  we have to have some sort of explanation.  I’m not telling my mother I was abducted by aliens and experimented on for a year.”


His mouth moved, but no sound emerged.  They hadn’t talked about it, but she was right.  No one would believe, and if they did, they’d want to test her, experiment on her themselves.  Why hadn’t he thought . . . because he was too happy to have her back.  And no way would he share her with any scientists that might . . . He was happy, and it was such a new, strange feeling, he hadn’t thought of anything practical.


“I’ll go with whatever you want to tell her, Scully.”


“It’ll become the official story.”


“Maybe that’s for the best.  You don’t need a lot of doctors or scientists poking at you for months.”


“But your proof, Mulder.”


“You’re home, you’re safe.  I know the truth, I think you do.  That’s enough for now.  Can you understand that?”


She managed a smile, then nodded.  He pulled her against him and just held her.  After awhile she sat up.  “I need to call Mom.”


Mulder nodded, “Maybe you better let me call her, Scully.  I can prepare her a little, then put you on the phone.  The shock of just hearing your voice . . . “


“Good idea.  I think . . . I think we should do it now, before I lose my nerve again.”


“Dana Scully, lose her nerve?  I can’t visualize that.”  He kissed her forehead, and went to get his cell phone.




He pulled his car up in front of Maggie’s house.  He killed the engine and looked over at her.  Her hands were fisted in her lap.  He placed one of his large warm hands over her icy ones.  “Scully?”


“I’m okay.”


He didn’t argue, it wouldn’t do any good.  Instead he squeezed her hands, then let himself out and rounded the car to open her door.  He took her hand and helped her from the car.  They walked silently to the door, which flew open and Maggie threw her arms around her daughter.  Mulder moved slightly behind Scully to make sure she wasn’t knocked off the porch.


“Come in!  Oh Dana, come in, Fox, please.”  Finally she realized they were still basically outside.  The rest of the family waited just inside.


Dana seemed to be passed around from arm to arm, tears flowing freely.  Mulder was also hugged, first by Maggie, then Melissa.  The younger brother, Charlie, pumped his hand vigorously and clapped him on the back.  The older brother, Bill, was more reserved, nodding from across the room.  Okay . . .


Mulder found a glass of wine in his hand, as her mother gave a toast.  Then they were hustled into a feast.  She seemed to be doing okay, though she spent a lot of time locating him with her eyes.  Bill had obviously noted that as well, because his eyes were becoming narrower and narrower as time progressed.

Charlie and Melissa included him in the conversation, but he let Scully answer most of the questions, glossing over items as ‘Bureau business in the on-going investigation’.  The meal was good, but he could see the toll it was taking on her.


Apparently her mother finally noticed the strain herself.  “Dana, honey, you’re worn out.  I shouldn't have planned so much, but I’m just so happy.”  She stopped to regain her own composure.  “You should head on upstairs.  I have your old room waiting.  I got some of your things out of storage, but you need to let me know what you need and I’ll get it for you.”


“Mom, really, I’m not an invalid.”  She glanced over at Mulder, remembering suddenly exactly where her bed was, and color came to her cheeks.


Mulder had no trouble keeping a straight face.  It had hit him that she would be staying here tonight.  He had to have known it, but he’d pushed the thought away.


He looked from her into the smoldering eyes of Bill Scully.  What was his problem now?  Did Bill know he had her bed over at his place?


“You look flushed, Dana.  Really, I think you should go on up.  The others can help me in the kitchen.”  Maggie took Scully’s arm and moved with her toward the stairs.


Scully glanced back at Mulder, but he didn’t see.  Bill did.  As soon as the two women reached the top of the stairs, Bill moved.


“Mulder, listen, we appreciate what you’ve done . . . you’ll never know, but, but right now she needs family.  Look, I’m sure she’ll call you in a couple of days.”


Mulder blinked, was he that dense or did he not want to get it.  Bill was throwing him out.  Well, hell he shouldn’t be surprised.  “Uh, yeah.  I understand.  She, she has my number.”


Bill nodded, moving him toward the door.  Mulder realized he wanted him gone before Scully returned to the room.  He didn’t even want him to say goodbye.  He could cause a scene, but that would upset Scully, and Maggie.  He didn’t want that.


Mulder stepped out the front door and Bill shut it without another word.  Well, that was definitive.  He moved on to his car and headed for his apartment.  She’d be okay, her sister and her mother were there.


He let himself into his apartment and looked around.  He hadn’t been here since his impulse to go to Skyland Mountain.  He glanced over at the fish tank and sighed.  He hadn’t given them a thought.  He started straightening up, flushing the fish and taking the contents of his refrigerator out to the dumpster.


Returning to his apartment, alone, caused his remaining energy to leak out of him.  He sank onto the couch, lonelier than before he had found her.  He’d spent over a week with her sleeping over his heart; this was too abrupt, wrong.


He jerked when the phone rang.  “Mulder.”


“Did I, did I do something wrong?”


“Scully?  No, never.”  Just the sound of her voice lifted his spirits.


“Then why did you leave without a word?” She sounded young, scared.


“Not because of you.  Scully, never . . . Bill thought you needed some family time.”


“Bill.  That bastard.”


“Scully, you kiss your mother with that mouth?”  But he was grinning now, his world back in a correct orbit with those three words.


“I’d rather be kissing you.”  She heard the deep intake of breath and smiled herself.


“Me too, but Bill does have a point.”


“On top of his head.”


“Agreed, but your mother needs some time with you.  It’s been a very hard year for her.”


“Mulder . . . she made, she made a doctor’s appointment for me.”


“You knew you were going to have to - “




“Tomorrow?  How - “


“A friend, we were in medical school together.  She pulled the guilt strings.  I don’t know if I can . . . “


“You can, Scully.  You can do anything.”


“Would you come?”


“Your mother - “


“I can’t let her stay with me.  I’ll go in and, and convince her to leave.  When she does, you can come in.”


“You want me to be spy guy?”


He could feel her relax, almost see her smile.  “Think you could handle it?”


“Well, for you, I guess . . . “


“How do I sleep tonight?”  She was only partially kidding now.


“Yeah, I was wondering that myself.”  There was a pause then, both silent.


“Mulder, my appointment’s at nine.”  She gave him the directions.


“I’ll be there.”


“Thanks.”  She broke the connection then and he held the phone for a moment longer.




It had been a little difficult to convince her mother to leave the next morning, but Scully had gone into professional doctor mode and her friend, Jerry, had backed her up.


“Mrs. Scully, this is going to take several hours.  I want to be thorough.  I’m sure you have better things to do than read my old magazines.  Dana can call you when she’s through.”


“Please, Mom.  Go on, I’ll feel so guilty thinking of you just sitting out here.”


“Well, if you’re sure you won’t need me . . . “


“Jerry will take very good care of me, Mom.”


“Well there are some errands . . . All right, but you call me and I’ll come pick you up.  Fox got me a cell phone, so use that.”


Scully smiled, “Mulder did that?”


“He wanted to be able to reach me, in the beginning.  Then he thought it would be safer for me to have one, driving and all.”


Scully nodded, yes, Mulder would think of that.  She suddenly couldn’t wait for her mother to leave so that he could join her.


“I promise, Mom.  Now go on, so we can get started.”


Maggie kissed her daughter’s cheek.  “I’m just so happy to have you home safe.”


“Me too, Mom.  Don’t worry about me.  Go on and I’ll call you.”


She watched her mother leave the office. 


“Dana, come on.”


“Just a minute.”  She was watching the door, waiting.  He would wait for her mother to be out of sight.  In less time than she imagined, he walked in.  When he spotted her, he smiled and she took hold of the counter to support herself.


He was beside her in two steps.  “You okay?”  He took hold of her arm, his other arm going around her.


“I am now,” she whispered.


“Dana, who . . . ?”


“This is Fox Mulder, my . . . my partner.  He’s here with me.”


Jerry absorbed this for a minute.  “Okay, follow me.”


Mulder waited in the hall while she changed, but was allowed back in while blood was drawn and her vitals taken.  He sat with her while she waited and stepped outside only during the actual physical.


He returned when the nurse stuck her head out and invited him to return.  Jerry patted Scully’s knee.  “I had them rush the tests.  Why don’t you get dressed, then wait in my office?  It shouldn’t be long.”  Mulder didn’t know the man, but there was something in his expression . . .


“Thanks Jerry.”


“Hey, I remember your mother’s cooking.”  He seemed to force a grin in Mulder’s opinion, then let himself out.


“He, uh, he’s had your mother’s cooking?”


She looked over at him at the tone in his voice.  “Everyone at med school knew Mom’s cooking.  You have no reason to worry.”


He tilted his head and shrugged.  “Yeah, okay.”


She shook her head, smiling.  “Could you hand me my clothes?”


“What’s the fun in that?”  He mock cringed at the eyebrow and handed her the neat stack of clothing.


“Are you going to watch me dress?”


“Thought I would.  It’ll be a nice contrast to what I’ve been familiar with.”


She tried to look stern, but the innocent look on his face foiled her.  She turned from him and dropped the robe.




Jerry glanced over at Mulder, Mulder had that uneasy feeling again.  “Dana, are you sure - “


“I want Mulder here.”  Scully reached over and took Mulder’s hand.  “Please, Jerry.”


He sighed, “Your blood work appears normal; of course you could run more in-depth tests.  I can send the samples off - “


“No.”  Mulder and Scully spoke together.


Jerry blinked, but changed subjects.  “Physically you’re in good shape, of course, being in good shape when you were . . . taken helps there.”  He rose then and came around the desk.  He perched on the edge of his desk then and looked down at Scully.  “Dana, what happened to the baby?”


Mulder stiffened instantly.  He started to interrupt but she spoke first.  “What baby?  What are you . . . “


“Dana, the exam, the physical exam showed that you’ve given birth recently.  I would say full term, a vaginal delivery.  Dana?”


Mulder had seen the color drain from her face, and even seated, reacted quicker than Jerry, catching her as she slid from the chair.  He laid her gently on the carpet as Jerry dashed to his desk for an ammonia capsule.  He broke it under her nose and she jerked, resisting it.  “I’ll get a nurse.”


“No!  Don’t call anyone.  Scully, can you hear me?”


“Mulder.”  Her lips formed the word, but she made no sound.


“I’m right here.”


“Get me out of here.”


He nodded.  “Doctor, may I take her home?”


“I . . . there’s no reason to keep her.”


“Fine.  Is everything in that file?”


“I beg your pardon?”


“This information, her tests, they’re private, right?”


“Uh, yes of course - patient confidentiality,” Jerry stuttered.


“Okay.” Mulder helped her back into the chair, then picked up the file.


“Wait a minute.”


“This is hers.  Dr. Scully would like for this to remain confidential while we, while we investigate it.”  He tucked the file into the waistband of his slacks, under his suit coat.  Then he lifted her to her feet.


“Mom?” she whispered.


“I’ll call her.”  He turned to Jerry again, “Do you have anything to help her relax?”


Jerry hesitated an instant; things had gotten out of his control quickly.  “Yes.”  He pulled a sample pack from his desk.  “Just one, every eight hours.  These will knock her out completely.”


Mulder nodded, slipping the packet into his inside coat pocket.  “Is there a back way?”


“Yes, follow me.”  Jerry led them to the back, Mulder supporting her small frame nearly completely.  As he opened the door, Jerry put his hand on Scully’s arm.  “Dana, if you need to talk . . . “


She nodded, but didn’t speak.  Mulder murmured his thanks and led her down the stairs.  He seated her in his car, then hurried to get in himself and pulled out.


“I’m taking you to my place, Scully.”


She nodded, her eyes closed and lay her head against her window.  They drove in silence then.  She didn’t move, or have any reaction when he parked outside of his building.  He carefully opened her door and squatted beside her.


“We’re here, Scully.  Do you want me to carry you?”


She shook her head but allowed him to assist her from the car.  He took her inside and seated her on the couch.  “Scully?”


She shook her head, not wanting, not able to talk now.  “You should be lying down.”




“I’ll call her when I get you settled.”  She didn’t protest, allowing him to move her like a large doll.  He sat her on the side of the bed and removed her shoes, then lay her gently back and pulled the sheet over her.  He pulled out the pills the doctor had given him and popped one out of the cellophane.  “I’ll get you some water.”  He returned quickly and she swallowed the little capsule.  She was quiet, so he placed a soft kiss on her brow then returned to the living room and picked up the phone.




“Maggie, it’s -  “


“Fox!  Is she okay?”


“I think she’s just a little overwhelmed with, with being home, seeing everybody.”


“She’s with you?”


“Yes.  She wants to stay here for a while, a couple of days, just until she feels more herself.”


“May I talk to her?”


“She’s asleep right now, Maggie.  I’ll . . . I’ll have her call you when she wakes up.”


“She’s not okay, is she, Fox?”  She had learned a little about this man over the past year.


“No.  I think what’s she’s been through is, is more than she can talk about right now.”


“You’ll look after her.”


“Yes ma’am.”


Maggie sighed, “Have her call me, Fox.”


“I will, but you try not to worry.  She’s here and she’s safe.”


“Thank you for calling me.”  Maggie hung up without saying goodbye and he glanced over at the bedroom door as he did the same.  He’d told the truth.


With her resting, he didn’t want to disturb her, but his place definitely wasn’t worthy of company right now.  He decided to change out of the suit and finish what he had started. 


He was actually dusting his desk, a chore that he had not done in the span of his memory, when the pounding started on his door.  What the hell?  He didn’t want her rest disturbed, so he hurried to the door and opened it.  Bill shoved his way in and Mulder shook his head.


“Where is she?”


“Lower your voice.  She’s asleep in there.”  He motioned toward the bedroom.


“She doesn’t belong here.  I’m taking her home.”


“Bill, leave her alone for a little while.  She needs some time.”


“What she doesn’t need is you.  If she hadn’t become your partner, none of this would have happened to her, her life wouldn’t have been disrupted.  Hell, she’d have probably gone back to medicine by now.  But she didn’t want to disappoint you, let you down.  And you just let her go along.  You son of a bitch.”  Mulder didn’t have time to duck the fist that smashed into his jaw.  He stumbled back and shook his head.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw the bedroom door open.


Bill advanced on him and the second blow struck Mulder in the stomach, knocking the breath out of him and sending him to his knees.


“Bill!  No!”  Scully was between them now, her hands on Bill’s chest, shoving him back.


“You’re coming home with me, Dana.  You don’t need to be -  “


“Shut up.  Shut up!  SHUT UP!”  She had punctuated each statement by shoving Bill backwards toward the door.  She screamed the last one, out of control now and Bill stumbled back, suddenly frightened by her state of mind.  Her next shove pushed him out into the hall and before he could move, she slammed the door in his face and flipped the deadbolt, then leaned her back against the door and slid to the floor.


Mulder shook off his stupor then and scrambled to his feet to get to her side.  She was breathing as heavily as he was and let her eyes close as his arms went around her.  “Scully?”


She shook her head and burrowed into his chest.  “Come on, back to bed.”  He lifted her into his arms and carried her back to his room.  She was shaking now, so he reclined next to her and spooned around her.  “Relax, Scully.  I’m right here.  Bill’s gone and you need to calm down.  Come on.”  He gentled her, stroking her arm while holding her tight against his body. 


The shaking finally did begin to abate and he was able to draw a steadier breath himself.  He didn’t know if she was asleep until she spoke. 


“I’m sorry Bill hit you.”  Her voice was flat, dead.


“Scully, don’t worry about it.  You know I can take a punch.  He needed to hit something.”


“He didn’t have to hit the man I . . .”  She went silent again.


“I was available.  Put it out of your mind, Scully.”


“And what should I think about instead?”  She shivered slightly.


He didn’t have a ready answer for that one, just holding her against his body.  “You should be asleep.  That pill - “


“It’s not working.  I guess I’ve had so many drugs over the last year that it’s not strong enough.”


He kept quiet, but kissed the nape of her neck.


“It was real, the pregnancy in the game.”




“You knew.”  She sounded more tired than accusing.


“I suspected, from what you said.”


“What I said?”


“The . . . the pain was so bad it threw you back to the table.  You felt the birth, then you were back in the game, with me.”


She nodded, “I did say that.  I just didn’t hear it.”


“You weren’t ready to hear it, you still aren’t.”  He realized she had started to cry.


“I remember the game.  You were so excited about the pregnancy, so happy.  We’d been wanting it, trying and, and when it happened . . . “  She broke into sobs then and he could only hold her, let her cry herself out.


She turned toward him, burying her face in his chest and crying as though she would never stop, her heart shattered.  It hit him suddenly that she had wanted this, wanted a family - with him.


Those weren’t dreams he had ever explored.  He really hadn’t considered ever jumping into the gene pool.  Why would he want to subject an innocent child to the kind of life he’d had?  And his adolescent fantasies about his partner -  he’d never allowed those to spill over into more mature areas.


Now, though, now he was thinking about it.  To have this woman carry his child, grow round and full, to feel a child of his move inside of her . . . he felt a hunger deep in his heart he’d never known.  With her, with Scully, there was a, a feeling of . . . no!  Stop it now.  This was ridiculous, after what she’d been through, been subjected to, to even hint at a fleeting desire such as this was madness.


He shoved the fledgling yearning away.  He had to be focused on her, her needs were all that mattered.


He realized her tears were tapering off into hiccupping breaths and saw that her eyes were closed.  Maybe she was getting a little rest finally.  She needed it.  The shock this morning had been the final straw.


When he was sure she was fully asleep, he slipped out of the bed carefully.  He slipped off his soaked t-shirt and tenderly dried her face a little before pulling up the covers and, at the last minute, leaving the t-shirt beside her.  She seemed to sigh and rested her face against it.


For some reason that action brought tears to his own eyes.  He stood watching her for a moment, then forced himself away, snagging a dry shirt from the pile of clean, but unfolded laundry in the basket at the foot of the bed.


He let himself out of the bedroom, leaving the door slightly cracked.  He stumbled to the couch and sank onto it.  He’d shoved it aside since the thought had formed at the cabin.  They had bred her, forced her to carry some sort of alien or, or hybrid inside of her, and keeping her complacent by using an image of him.


She said he’d been happy, excited about the baby.  Did she know, could he ever tell her that he would have been?  He let his face sink into his hands.


He didn’t know how long he sat like that.  The phone shattered the silence and he grabbed it before it could wake her.  “Mulder.”


“Agent Mulder, word has it that you have located Agent Scully.”  The words were correct, but the tone was icy, barely covering the underlying fury.


“Assistant Director Skinner.”


“Nice of you to remember me.  I thought maybe you’d forgotten about the Bureau completely.”


“Uh, no sir.”


“When did you find her?”


“Sir, let me explain.”


“Yes, why don’t you do that.  I want you and Agent Scully in my office in an hour.”


“Sir, we can’t.  I mean, she can’t.  I . . . I can’t leave her alone.  I was planning to bring you up to date on Monday when I returned.”


“What do you mean, ‘she can’t’?  She had dinner with her family last night and appeared fine.”


“Appeared, sir.  It was too much for her.”


“What’s wrong with her?”  Skinner’s voice had lost the booming command now.


“I . . . post traumatic stress would be my diagnosis, sir.”


There was silence on the other end, as Skinner suddenly remembered he was talking to a Ph.D. in psychology.  “What, uh, what treatment . . . ?”


“Right now she needs rest.  She needs to feel secure -”


“Is she with you?”  Skinner interrupted.


"Uh, yeah.  She's at my apartment.  She's, she's sleeping right now."


"Okay," Skinner paused.  "Be in my office first thing Monday morning."


"Yes sir."  But the connection had already been broken.


Who had called him?  Before the question fully formed, he knew.  Bill.  Friggin’ son of a  . . . Okay, he could understand Bill's hatred of him.  He knew Bill had had him checked out when Scully had been taken.  It was to Maggie's credit that she hadn't just taken her oldest son's word for it that Scully's disappearance was all his fault.  But didn't he realize he was hurting her?


He looked over at the door.  The problem was, it was all his fault.  They'd been separated, the X-Files closed down.  She could have, would have been safe if he'd stood firm, kept her away.  But he hadn't, he'd called on her, asked for her help.  At first that had been his excuse.  He hadn't admitted to himself until she was gone that he'd called her because he couldn't stay away.  He loved her even then, he just hadn't recognized it.  Why should he, it had never happened before.


He didn't realize it was really her standing in the door for a moment.  She was so still watching him.  His head went up when she moved toward him.


"Scully, you should -  "


She sat beside him on the couch and brushed the tears from his cheeks.  When had he started crying?


"Mulder, just hold me."


Without a word he pulled her into his lap and held her close.


"Stop blaming yourself."




"I've been, I've been with you for the past year.  I'm pretty good at reading your moods now."


He managed a half smile that faded immediately.  Rather than pursue that, he changed tactics.  "You missed lunch, you need to eat something."


"Mulder, I -  "


"I can't fix a meal like last night's, but you need to eat something.  Maybe some soup."




He kissed her forehead, then moved her to the couch and rose.  He picked up the phone and handed it to her.   "Three on the speed dial is the Chinese place."


She gave him a wan smile, "Three huh?  What's two?"


"The pizza guy."


She nodded, "How about one?"


"That's your apartment."


She blinked at that.  "You never reprogrammed it?"


He shrugged, "I couldn't."


She looked at him for a long moment, then, "You're in love with me, aren't you."


"Yeah, I am."  He stated it simply, watching her face.


"When did you decide this?"


"It wasn't a decision as much as a realization."




"Yeah, about a week after you, after you disappeared, I went back to Skyland Mountain.  Duane Barry was dead, the trail was ice cold.  I just felt the need to . . ."  He shrugged.  Her eyes grew moist again at the visual that brought up for her.  "You know, it's exactly what I did a week ago and . . . and this time you were there."


After a moment he shook himself, "You order dinner, I'll put some tea on, okay?"


She nodded and watched him walk into the kitchen.


She joined him in a couple of minutes.  "Food's on the way."




"Mulder, do you have anything I could change into?"  She looked down at the outfit she'd slept in.


"Uh, yeah, bottom drawer of my dresser.  There're some of your clothes."


She looked up, "My clothes?"  He nodded.  "Do you want to tell me how some of my clothes ended up in your drawer?"


"No," he said simply.  After a moment she nodded and retreated to the bedroom.  No, he didn't want to get into that right now.  Probably never.  He puttered around in the kitchen, putting the tea in a pitcher and into the refrigerator to cool.  He was startled at the knock on his door, that was quick, even for Lin Poo.


"Scully, my wallet's on the dresser."




He opened the door, expecting to see his diminutive buddy Lin, instead there stood the imposing bald figure of Walter Skinner.


"Assistant Director."  He just stood there, unmoving.


"May I come in?"


"Oh, sure."  He stepped back to allow him in, then realized that Skinner's eyes were focused past him.  He turned to see Scully standing in the doorway.  She was wearing her jeans that she'd found in the drawer, but the shirt was his and she obviously had nothing on under it.  He felt a surge of . . . something, realizing  that Skinner had just as obviously noticed that fact as well.


Skinner stepped toward her.  "Agent Scully, it's very good to see you."  His eyes were taking in her appearance carefully, not just the fact that her breasts were free under Mulder's t-shirt.  She was pale, her eyes were still slightly red as though from a long bout of tears.  She'd lost weight and it was clear she'd been through . . . something.


"It's good to be home, sir."


"Sir?" Mulder drew his attention. "I said I'd report to you Monday -  "


"This isn't official.  I just wanted to see for myself that she was okay."


"What did Bill say to you?"


Scully's head came up at those words, her eyes showing her surprise.  Skinner didn't bother to deny it.  "He's concerned about his sister, concerned there might be undue influence on her at a time when she's vulnerable."


Mulder turned to her then. "Scully, am I pressuring you to stay here?"


She didn't bother answering him,  just turning to Skinner.  "I don't suppose Bill mentioned that he was here and that he physically assaulted Mulder."


"Scully -  "


"Or that I asked Mulder to come get me following a doctor's appointment."


"No.  He didn't mention either detail."


Scully seemed to shrink a little then, "I need to call Mom."


The knock on the door startled them all.  Mulder answered it to Lin's smiling face.  "You got company tonight, huh Big Guy.  About time."  He nodded at Mulder.


Mulder couldn't stop the grin.  He hadn't realized Lin was keeping up with his social life.  "Yeah, very special company.  This better be your best stuff."


"Always for you, Mudder."


Mulder rolled his eyes and took the wallet from Scully, then doubled his normal tip.  Lin's eyes widened.  "Hey missy, you come back any time," he called as Mulder shut the door.


The interruption had lightened the mood; even Skinner was grinning.  "Sir, won't you join us?"  Scully offered.


"Oh no, I just -  "


"Please.  There's plenty and I need to see people, get my bearings."


Skinner looked over at Mulder, who nodded.  "Well, thank you."


They didn't stand on ceremony, Mulder put him to work, dishing up the food, while Scully poured tea.  Skinner entertained them with some stories of things that had happened around the Bureau while she had been gone and had her laughing shortly.  Mulder smiled, delighted with her mood.


"How come I hadn't heard about that?"  Mulder asked, urging Scully to take some more vegetables.


"Because you had your head stuck in the basement and only came up for air on my orders."


"The basement?"  Scully looked between the two.  "The X-Files?"


"Mulder didn't tell you?"  Skinner looked at the younger man.  "I had them reopened for a while when . . . "


Scully absorbed that.  "You've been working on the X-Files.  Who's your partner?"


"Not any more, and I don't have one."


"What happened to Krycek?"


The look on Mulder's face caused her to regret her words instantly.  "He’s, uh missing.  He was working against me, us.  He kept me from getting to you in time.  He killed the tram operator and hasn't been seen since."


Scully met his eyes and Skinner realized that a great deal of information had been passed between the two during that silent moment.  Bill Scully was a fool, if she was going to heal, this was the place she needed to be.


Scully passed out the fortune cookies - Skinner opened his first and read aloud, "Your life is about to become very interesting."  He groaned lightly and looked over at Mulder who just shrugged.


"My turn."  Scully broke hers open.  "No need for a long trip, what you seek is right here."  She wouldn't look up, but nodded to herself.


Mulder chose between the remaining two and cracked it.  "Now is the time to recognize the love that's always been there and appreciate it."  He glanced up at her and away.  Skinner was still there.


Skinner cleared his throat, "They sound rigged to me.  What 's in the last one?"


"You check."  Scully handed it to him.  He read it and grinned.  "What?"


"You like Chinese food."


"You're kidding."  Mulder reached for it and Skinner surrendered it to him.  "Damn."


"Looks like we each picked the right cookie tonight.  Well, "  Skinner pressed his napkin to his lips.  "I appreciate the dinner, but I need to get going."  He rose and reached for his plate.


"We'll take care of that."  Scully stopped him.  "I appreciate you coming over to check on me."


"I wanted to do it.  Now if anyone asks about you, I can give a personal report.  Mulder, enjoy the rest of your leave and I'll see you on Monday."


"Yes sir."  He walked Skinner to the door as Scully gathered up the silverware.


"I'll give Bill a call.  She looks like she'll be okay."


"I'm glad you came over.  It's going to take some time."


Skinner nodded and Mulder let him out, then rejoined Scully.  "You doing okay?"


"Yes.  I'm glad he stayed.  It was a nice respite from . . . "


Mulder nodded,  "maybe you ought to go stay at his place."


"No," she smiled gently and touched his cheek.  'I need your arms around me to sleep."


He shook his head slightly, still having trouble believing her, believing in her.  "Scully, you can't put off calling your mother any longer."


She looked down at her hands for a moment, then nodded without facing him.


"I'll give you some privacy."


She looked up quickly and started to say something, then changed her mind.  She walked over to the couch and picked up the phone.  He moved into the kitchen,  he could still hear her, but at least she had some space.


"Mom, I'm . . . I'm going to be okay.  I just . . . I'm sorry.  No, Mom, I . . .. I need to stay here.  Because he makes me feel safe."


He stopped, stunned, nearly dropping the tea pitcher.  He closed his eyes and leaned against the counter.  He made her feel safe.  How the hell . . . she should be at her mother's, she should be with Bill.  They could keep her safe, not him.


He didn't hear her hang up, and jerked when she touched his hand.  "Mulder?  What?"


He didn’t respond and her arm went around him.  “Come lie down with me until I go to sleep.”  He nodded and allowed her to pull him into the bedroom.  She took the bathroom first, while he changed in the room.


When she emerged he could see she’d been crying again, but didn’t want to talk about it.  While she settled in, he took over the bath.  He emerged quietly to find her face buried in her pillow to muffle her sobs.


“Oh, Scully.”


“I’m sorry, I -  “


“No.  Don’t . . . Scully you have to grieve.”


“Mulder, is there anyway . . . “


“What?”  He brushed back her hair and kissed her forehead.


“We’d never be able to find my baby, could we?”


The question stunned him.  It hadn’t really reached the surface of his mind to try.  The baby, hell it could only be half human, right?  “I, I don’t know, Scully.  I hadn’t . . . Don’t think about it tonight.  Let me worry about it in the morning.  Just rest for now, try to sleep.  Do you want another pill?”


She nodded, not speaking.  She cuddled in as he got it for her, then settled into his arms.  It seemed to work better this time.  Her even breathing let him know when the capsule took effect.  Part of him wished he’d taken one as well.


His mind was racing -  she wanted to find her child.  He understood that on some level.  She would have bonded with it while it was still in her womb, but what was it?  And where the hell would he start?  Shit, was he really considering this?  He could lose his mind this way.


He shoved it aside when he realized she was crying again.  She wasn’t awake, but even her dreams brought her pain.  He held her against him, murmuring soothing sounds until the crying ended.


It was repeated throughout the night.  He would nap occasionally, but mostly held her.


She was watching him when he woke that morning.  “Scully?”


She ignored the implied question, “Did you get any sleep?”


“Enough.  You want some coffee?”


“I think I’d like a shower first.”


“Sure, I’ll see what I have for breakfast.  Once again the cupboards are bare.”  He gave her a tender kiss and rose.  “Save me some hot water?”


“I’ll try.”  But she managed a tiny smile.


She joined him in the kitchen shortly, her hair slicked back and wearing a robe he’d forgotten he owned.  Scully took a sip of the coffee and sighed.  There were circles under her eyes, but also a determined air he hadn’t seen before.


He started to mention it when they heard the knock on the door.  “Great.”  He muttered and moved to open it.  He was surprised to find Charlie, her younger brother standing there.


“Hi, uh, may I come in?”


“Depends,” Scully answered.  “Are you here to punch him out too?”


Charlie’s eyes took in the large man standing quietly in front of him.  “Is it mandatory?”


Mulder’s lips twitched then and he motioned the younger man in.


Charlie looked between the two, then placed a suitcase near the door.  “Were you kidding?  Is this some sort of initiation?”


“Just forget it,” Mulder advised, but Charlie’s eyes grew round.


“Bill?  Oh god, did Bill . . . that son of . . . “  He shook his head.  “Mulder, one thing you need to know - I ain’t Bill.”


“I got that.”  Mulder glanced down at the suitcase.  “You moving in too?”


“You offering?”  Charlie grinned.  They both saw Scully cross her arms and her eyes narrow.  “Guess not.  Actually, Mom thought you could use these things.”


Scully’s arms dropped to her side at those words and her eyes grew moist again.  “Damn.”  She muttered as she dashed the tears away.   “Is she angry with me?”


“No, Dana, part of her understands, but she does need to see you.  Could you, maybe have dinner with her tonight, just the two of you?”




“He has a flight out this afternoon.  He won’t be there.”  He took in the relaxation in her posture.  “Hey, who is Walter Skinner anyway?”


“Skinner?”  Mulder looked surprised, then a smile began to grow on his face.


“Skinner called him?”  Scully looked over at Mulder and saw the smile.  The wonder in his smile finally penetrated and her own eyes lightened.  “He’d do that for us?”


“For you,” Mulder said.


Charlie was watching both of them, and finally decided to join in.  “So, does this mean you’ll come to dinner?”


After a moment she nodded.


Mulder took a deep breath, “I’ll take you over, then if you want to stay -  “


“No.  I’ll go for dinner, but I want to come home afterward.”


His eyes seemed to eat her up.  Home?  This was home?  She blushed as she heard her own words.  “I . . .”


“No problem.  I’ll pick you up.”


She nodded.


Charlie was just observing these two.  It was incredible.  Even he and Mary weren’t like them.  He really needed to get to know this guy.


“Uh, listen, since I’m being thrown out due to this dinner, maybe you and I could grab a beer or something.”


Mulder blinked, caught off guard by the suggestion.


“You don’t have to worry.  You can probably take me, and you are armed.”


Mulder turned to Scully.  “Do I want to have a beer with this guy?”


She rolled her eyes, “I guess he’d be my choice of the two.”


“You’re a real peach, Sis.”


“Anytime.  You want some coffee?”


Charlie nodded and followed her into the kitchen while Mulder took the suitcase into the bedroom.




He pulled up in front of the familiar house and parked.  "Scully?"


She took his hand.  She'd been very meticulous applying her makeup and he knew she didn't want to cry again, not right now, so he kept quiet.  He let himself out and opened her door.  She didn't take his hand or attempt to get out.  He squatted beside the door and looked at her.


"I can do this.  You'll be back by eight."


"Seven if you want."  He smiled at her.


She gave a mild chuckle and looked down at her hands.  "No, eight will be okay."  Scully took a deep breath and took his hand to get out of the car. 


"I have my phone, Scully."


She nodded and they walked to the door.  He knocked and very quickly Maggie opened the door.  Her eyes were worried, but welcoming and she gestured them inside.


"Mom, I - "


"I'm glad you felt up to coming, Dana.  Let's just have a nice evening, with less stress this time, okay?"




Charlie joined them in the living room and gave Dana a quick hug, then looked over at Mulder.  He seemed unsure about leaving, giving the impression of hovering slightly.  Scully didn't seem to notice, or mind.


"Fox?"  Maggie looked up at him.  "I won't hurt her."


His eyes widened, "Oh, Maggie, I - "


"I appreciate how protective you are, don't worry about it."


"Yeah, well I guess . . . "


"Come on, Mulder," Charlie spoke up, "they'll probably forget we were even here."  He moved toward the door.


Mulder gave Scully the once over lightly, then gave her a chaste kiss on the lips and followed Charlie out to the car.  He got in and buckled up, then took a deep breath.


"She'll be okay, Mulder."


"I know."  He started the car and they moved off.


Mulder drove to a bar not that far from Maggie's home and pulled in.  Charlie was watching him, trying to get a take on this very different man.  He followed Mulder in and they took a booth, ordering two beers.


"What's good to eat here?"


Mulder gave him a slight grin, "Best cheeseburgers in DC."  His grin widened when he saw the lust in Charlie's eyes.


"You won't tell Mary?"


"My lips are sealed."


They ordered two cheeseburgers and a large order of fries, then Charlie sat back.  "Let's get this over with, okay?"


Mulder looked up and Charlie caught the caution in his eyes.


"You know more about what happened to Dana than you're saying."


Mulder made no comment.


"I know you can't go into it, but is my sister going to be okay?"


"I hope so."


Not the answer Charlie wanted.  "Is there anything I can do?"


"Just what you're doing.  It's going to take some time."


Charlie's eyes searched his and finally he nodded.  The waitress placed their meals in front of them and left.  Charlie picked up a French fry, "How long have you been in love with Dana?"


Mulder tensed immediately, but it was a friendly question, the tone non-accusing.  Charlie pushed the fries closer to him and continued to wait.


"That obvious?"  Mulder finally asked.


"As obvious as the nose on your face."


Mulder grimaced slightly, "that obvious?"


Charlie chuckled, "Yeah, that obvious."  He finally took a bite of his cheeseburger and sighed.  "Mary would flog me if she saw me eating this much cholesterol.  You and I should date more often."


Mulder coughed and took a swig of beer.


"You didn't answer my question, Mulder."


"From the moment she walked into my office.  I just didn't know it then."


Charlie nodded.  They visited, both keeping an eye on the time.  It was clear to Charlie that this man's need to return to Dana's side was as great as her need for him to do so.  He did nothing to slow them down and they pulled up in front of Maggie's house at 7:58 p.m.


"You always this punctual, Mulder?"


Now that they were actually here, Mulder had relaxed slightly and he grinned at him, "Don't tell Skinner I managed it."


Charlie nodded and they headed for the door.


Both women seemed calm, though the red eyes and scatted tissue spoke of a long talk.  Mulder hesitated at the entrance to the living room.  Scully rose and approached him, her arm going around his waist.


"I'm tired, Mulder, could you take me home?"


He immediately glanced over at Maggie, who gave him a slight nod.


"Sure."  Scully felt the tension leave his body.


Charlie and Maggie saw them to the door and after good nights all around he settled her into the car.  They were quiet on the way back to his place, but comfortably so.


She got ready for bed even though it was extremely early and he joined her; he'd stay with her until she fell asleep.


Scully curled in next to him and began speaking as though picking up from a conversation they had already begun.  "I didn't tell her about the baby, Mulder."  His arms cradled her a little tighter.  "We talked about being gone so long and . . . and some of the tests, physical and mental.  And you.  She knows I'm holding back, that I couldn't . . . "


"I'm sure she understands."


Scully nodded, "I think she does."  They were quiet again; so long this time that Mulder thought she had fallen asleep.  Then, quietly, "I want to go back to work."


He stiffened slightly, this was the one area where he and Bill agreed, but before he spoke, "I understand why you joined the Bureau, Mulder.  It's the best resource to locate your sister.  I need to go through the files."


"Scully -  "


"Please help me, Mulder, please."


He closed his eyes and pulled her closer, kissing her forehead.  She gave a small sigh of relief and closed her own eyes.



Chapter 4


Scully exchanged the file in her hand for one in the drawer and resumed her seat.  Mulder watched her out of the corner of his eye.  She had all of these files memorized by now, yet she continued to study them, hoping for another clue.  In the months since she'd been back on the job, they'd been back on the X-Files, she'd combed through everything he had ever accumulated on abductions.


At least it was beginning to dawn on her why, after 20+ years, he was no closer to finding Samantha.  And she wasn't blaming him for dragging his feet.  Her reports still read like a science textbook, but she was definitely looking at extreme possibilities now.


She had moved in completely with him.  He had mentioned the possibility of moving to a larger place, but she seemed to be in no hurry.  She hadn't replaced any of her furniture; just her clothes and a few personal items graced their apartment.


He pushed mildly for more only occasionally.  He was happier than he ever remembered being - having her in his arms every night.  Skinner had made no issue of their living arrangements, handling it as don't ask, don't tell.  Her official mailing address was her mother's home and they still booked two rooms when they were out of town on a case.  The fact that one remained empty was no one's business.


His nightmares had diminished with her in his arms.  The same couldn't be said for her.  Her sleep was populated by dreams of her abduction and time away.  She would wake clinging to him in fear that he wasn't real, just one of 'their' games.  She dreamed often of the pregnancy and labor that had revealed the truth to her.  He would wake to find her crying two or three times a week in the beginning, mourning the child he was now convinced she would never find.  The odds were too great.  Even if the child were human, DNA would be the only means of identification.  They didn't even know the sex of the child.  They never discussed these things, she knew and he knew that she knew.  He just held her through the dreams, the grieving, and loved her.


"Come on, Scully, it's five o'clock."


"Did you finish your part of the expense report?" 


"Yep.  Ready for you to add to yours." 


She rolled her eyes, but she seemed in a better mood today and her dreams last night had been good.  She just seemed more 'up' today.  He didn't know what had changed, but he was grateful for anything that helped her. 


He followed her out the door and she waited as he locked up.  Then with his fingers lightly touching her lower back, they made their way to his car.  They were still careful not to flaunt their relationship at work. 


Once home she started dinner while he straightened up and got the laundry together.  She had domesticated him and while he teased her about it occasionally, he wouldn't change a thing. 


She flipped through a magazine, lying against him as he watched the game.  She wasn't a fan, but she enjoyed the closeness of these evenings, knowing his arm was always there to go around her and feeling a little safer each day. 


Later Scully waited for him in the bed, watching him as he moved around the room.  He finally looked over at her and grinned, "Should I be dancing here?"  He gave a suggestive move with his hips and her smile widened. 


She patted the bed beside her and he joined her.  "You're in a good mood." 


She nodded and kissed the tip of his nose.  "Mulder, we're . . . we're together now, aren't we?"


He drew back a little.  "You coming on to me, Scully?" 


"No, really, we're -  "


"Yes, Scully.   We're together.  Does this mean you're thinking of finally accepting my proposal?" 


"Mulder," she demurred, "That's not - "


"But I think being married would be the next step."


"I wanted to ask you something else tonight."


He gave a light sigh and made himself comfortable stretched out beside her, up on one elbow as he watched her.


"I . . . " she wouldn't look up at him, seeming to find the pattern of his chest hair extremely fascinating suddenly.




She took a deep breath, "I want to have a baby, Mulder."  She forced herself to look up then and caught the look of utter shock on his face. 


"You, you want me to get you pregnant?  I mean - "


"I want us to get pregnant, yes." 


"But, but you want me . . .” 


At that she smiled, "Well who the hell else would I want, Mulder?  You agreed we were together now." 


"Well, yes, but . . . I guess I didn't . . . me?" 


"Mulder," her hand lightly caressed her face, "even 'they' knew you were the only one I wanted." 


He managed a slight laugh at that.  "Are you sure you're ready, Scully?  I mean physically.  You went through -”


"Yes, Mulder.  I don't want to wait.  I need . . . Mulder, I didn't know how much I wanted children; I guess I had just assumed that someday . . . but now - ”


"I understand that, Scully, but you didn't answer my question.  Physically are you ready."


"I'm a doctor, Mulder."


"You're a doctor to me.  I think you'd be a lousy patient for yourself."


He saw the pink stain her face slightly then, "I did see Jerry.  Just to see . . . he didn't ask a lot of questions he knew I wouldn't answer, but he said I was fine to go ahead . . .”


"You saw Jerry.  Scully, I would have gone with you."


"I know.  I wanted to find out a few things first."


"You're okay."  It was a question, but he didn't state it as such.


She smiled then, "Yes, and I want you to make a baby with me."


"When, uh, when would you want to start this project?"


"Well, tonight's a good night."


He gaped at her then, "To . . . tonight?"


Her smile faded a little, "I guess . . . I've been thinking about this so much, I guess I didn't remember that you weren't in on it.  I'm sorry, Mulder; I didn't mean to . . . You need some time."


"I'm not saying no, Scully.  I guess I'm still hung up on the part where you want me."


Her eyes softened then and she shook her head almost imperceptibly.  When was this guy going to get it?


She pushed him down then, flat on his back in the bed and began placing little kisses on his face, his cheeks, nose, and eyes while her hands played in his hair.  She was careful to keep her hands on his shoulders and above, only her body occasionally brushing against his.  Finally he groaned and pulled her against him and her eyes widened in appreciation.


"Well part of you seems to want to procreate, Mulder."


"He was always a leader in his field; the rest of me is catching up quick."


"Mulder, I don't want to force you, if you're not ready -”


He kissed her to shut her up.  "We're together, right?  I may take a little while to catch up, but I've always known if I was going to have kids, I only wanted them with you."


"It might not happen right away you know," she offered.


"You think I can talk you into marrying me before it happens?"


"We can think about it."  She agreed as he covered her body with his own.




She didn't get pregnant that month, to his relief though he didn't say that to her.  But it did give him time to get her to talk about it.  She'd done a great deal of thinking about the matter, and was able to answer his questions about logistics with more detail than he had imagined.  It did ease his mind on some level, though it brought up new questions in their turn.  At least they were able to discuss it. 


He'd never been as aware of her cycle.  Maybe she hadn't agreed to marry him - yet, but he felt like a husband.  There was a peace around him he'd never known.  Others seemed to notice and he heard fewer "Spooky" comments around the building.  Skinner actually gave him a 'well done' on a case he had handled as a favor for another division.


She wasn't pregnant the second or third month either.




They were on a case in upstate Minnesota.  Mulder was making no secret that he thought their suspect could use telekinesis; Scully was convinced there was an unknown accomplice.  She was giving him more benefit of the doubt these days, but she still made him work for it.


What she hadn't mentioned was that she was two days late.  He wanted her to bring it up.  He'd seen the disappointment in her eyes the other times.  Besides, they were on a case and while they shared a room now, they were more professional out of town.  He'd wait until they returned home, then if she hadn't said something . . .


Three of the disappearances had occurred at the same warehouse, where their suspect had worked prior to being fired.  Scully convinced him they needed to check the place out.


Due to the economy, only one shift was running, so the place was nearly deserted as they made their way around.  "Mulder, his work station was over there.  I want to check it."


"Okay, I'm gonna head up to the next floor."  He took the stairs two at the time.  He smiled once out of her sight, she was probably right.  He was beginning to believe this guy did have an accomplice, but he was thoroughly enjoying her arguing with him.


He checked the third floor quickly and started back down.  "Hey Scully, I'm not finding anything.  How about you?"


There was no response, none.  That wasn't like her and he knew she could hear him.  He quickened his pace.  Something wasn't right.  He could feel his heart rate increase and found his gun in his hand.


Mulder rounded the corner and came to a dead stop.  He was there; the man had been waiting for her.  Adrenaline dumped into his system as he focused on the knife the man held to Scully's throat.


"You couldn't leave it alone.  We had a good thing going.  We didn't take that much, we didn't hurt anybody.  But you had to come to town and fuck us over."


"Just let her go, Paul.  Can I call you Paul?  Right now all you've done is steal a few dollars worth of equipment.  If you injure a federal agent - ”


"Shut up!  Just don't talk; I need to think."


"Okay, but let Agent Scully go while you're thinking."  He didn't dare look at Scully, he had to focus, focus on this man.  The knife . . .  He moved closer as slowly as he could.  The man didn't seem to notice, trying to watch everything at once.


The elevator opened and the sound of people moving toward them startled the younger man.  In less than a heartbeat, Mulder was on him, pulling the knife away from her throat.  She heard the man's arm break and he howled.  Mulder was with him as he fell to the floor, slamming his fists into him over and over.


"Mulder!  Mulder, stop!"  She was pulling at him now.  "Stop it!  Mulder, listen to me!"  He finally heard her and stopped, trying to catch his breath.  He managed to pull out his cuffs and secure the man, ignoring his broken arm.  The others had raced toward the sound.  She turned toward them, "Call 911.  We need the police and a rescue unit."


Several men ran to do her bidding, the others kept their distance.  Mulder slowly made it to his feet, the remaining adrenaline causing a slight tremor in his hands.


Ignoring the men watching, and after glancing down at the subdued man, Mulder pulled Scully away to a quieter area.


"Are you alright?"  His hands held her upper arms tightly.


"Yes, Mulder.  It was barely a scratch."


He pulled her against him.  "That knife, I . . . I thought I would lose you both."


She looked up at him puzzled, "Both?"


"You and the baby."  His voice quavered.


That's when she realized how shaken he truly was.  "Mulder, I'm, I'm not -”


"You're late."


"Oh Mulder."  She shook her head, "this morning . . .”


He closed his eyes and sank onto a crate, one hand still touching her.


"I'm okay, Mulder."  He didn't respond.  She glanced back at the commotion growing on the other side.  "The police are here."


He nodded, "Let's get this over with."  He rose, wrapping himself in professionalism and walked ahead of her to meet them.  She ached for him; she'd had no idea he felt like this.


They made short work of the arrest.  The local police, slightly in awe of this pair, made things as smooth as possible.  Mulder held it together until they left the warehouse for their car.  Just before they reached it, she touched his arm.  "Let me drive."


He opened his mouth to protest, then thought better of it and nodded.  He handed her the keys and walked around to the passenger's side.  Neither spoke on the way to the motel.  She opened the door to the room they shared and he followed her in.  She watched him sink onto the foot of the bed and let his face drop into his hands.


"Mulder -”


"I can't do this."

"What?"  She felt prickles of fear on the back of her neck. 


He finally looked up.  "Okay, I'm a chauvinist, a Neanderthal, but I can't watch you go out in the field, pregnant and risk - ”


"Mulder, I'm not - ”


"But you're trying, we're trying.  Bill's right."


Her eyes widened at that, "Bill's right?"


"About you being a doctor.  It's not fair, not for an instant, but to see you put the two most important people in the world in danger - I can't watch it."


"Do you want to stop trying?"


"No!  No, Scully, I just . . . you'd already said you wanted to go back to Quantico when we did have a family.  Couldn't you do it now?  It's not like you wouldn't be involved in every case I see, but you'd be safer."


"I . . . I didn't realize . . .”


"It's not that you're not a good agent.  You know that, don't you, Scully?"


She nodded, but her thoughts were elsewhere now.  He watched her with more than a little fear.  She seemed to reach some conclusion and took his hand.


"I'm not pregnant now Mulder.  Let me . . . I need to think about all of this.  I'm sorry I didn't . . . Mulder, I had no idea how this was affecting you."  Her hand entangled in his hair and drew his face down to her.  "Thank you."  She breathed in his mouth as her lips caressed his.




She let herself in the office.  "Where've you been?"  he asked immediately.


"I had an appointment with Jerry -”


"Are you okay?"  He was already on his feet.


"I'm fine."  She smiled at his concern.  "I just wanted a few more tests run.  I haven't gotten pregnant and I wanted to know if there was any reason."

"What did he say?" 


"I just had the tests today, blood work, an ultrasound.  He'll call me when he has the results."


"May I come?"


She looked surprised then, "Of course.  Today was just the boring stuff.  If I am going to transfer, I want a good reason.  Some other partner sharing a room with you -”


"No way.  No sharing except with short, mule-headed redheads."


"Have you seen the new woman in Accounting?"


He nodded, "Not mule-headed enough."


"I guess that's good to hear, I think."


He squeezed her hand; they didn't want to risk getting caught at work but right now he was more than ready to head home and take her in his arms.




It was two days later when Mulder took the call.  "It's Jerry.  Is Dana around?"


"She just went upstairs.  Do you have her results?"


"I need to see her."


Mulder tensed instantly, "Is there a problem?"


"Mulder, I need to have her come over.  Don't worry her; just have her come to the office at five this afternoon.  I'll talk to you later."


Mulder held the receiver a moment after the connection was broken.  The man could have told him something, damn it.  And why see her after office hours?  Just because they were friends?  'Don’t worry her.' What the hell had that meant?


He'd turned back to the computer by the time she returned, but he wasn't seeing it.


"I think you're avoiding the redhead in Accounting and I'm paying the price," she muttered as she entered.  She took her seat and looked over at him, "Mulder?"


"Huh?  Oh, you had a call.  Jerry wants you to drop by at five tonight."


"That was quick.  We didn't have any plans, did we?"


He shook his head.




"Sorry.  I was thinking about a case."


She smiled and rolled her eyes, then turned to her own work, missing the look he shot her.


He wanted to warn her or something, but he had nothing concrete to warn her about.  "Don't worry her."  What the hell did that mean?  He kept quiet, but he was on edge.

The door to the office was locked, but Jerry himself let them in. 


"I sent my nurses on home; I wanted to be able to talk."


Scully's smile faded, "Jerry, is something -”


"Come on in my office.  Do you want Mulder to join us?"


She nodded and slipped her hand into his.  They took the same seats in front of Jerry's desk as the last visit and waited.  Mulder couldn't tell who was more concerned about her, but he was willing to bet it was him.

"Dana, after last time, when you took your file, I decided to run these tests under a false name.  If you want someone else to rerun them . . . "

"Jerry, what's wrong with me?" 


"You're not ill, Dana."  Mulder's eyes closed for an instant in relief.  "Do you remember the ultrasound we did when you had that cyst a few years ago?"


She nodded.

"Well, I used that as a base line, I . . . Dana, I know you're trying to get pregnant, but . . .” He looked down at the chart.  "I don't understand what I'm seeing. Dana, you're not going to be able to conceive.  I'm sorry, but . . . but according to your tests, you have no ova.  Listen, I know that's impossible.  There is no science that I've ever heard of that could extract all of the ova from a woman, but . . .”

Scully's grip on Mulder had become painful, but he barely noticed.


"This, Dana, this doesn't mean you can't ever have children.  There are donors out there and with in-vitro - ” 


"Stop.  Jerry . . . "


Jerry closed his mouth.  He had nothing more to say, except empty platitudes.  Dana knew, or could find out, about the different solutions.  Right now he was having to witness such incredible pain in his friend.


"Get me out of here."  It was barely even a whisper, but Mulder was already rising.  She didn't seem able to stand on her own, so he lifted her to her feet.


"Dana -” Mulder held up his hand to stop Jerry and he complied.


Mulder held her against him, but her arms hung at her sides.  He glanced at Jerry who had a million questions in his eyes.  He gave a small shake of his head and started walking her to the door.


There was total silence on the way home, both too stunned to absorb what they had just heard.  She didn't seem to realize he had parked when they arrived, so he opened her door and put his hand on hers, clutched in her lap.  They were icy.


"Let's get inside, Scully."


She moved then, but seemed to be functioning at the lowest possible level.  Once inside she seemed more aware, and resisted as he tried to lead her into the bedroom.


"Can I get you some tea?  Some water?"  He desperately wanted to do something for her, even knowing nothing would help at this point.

She shook her head and moved slightly away from him.  "I . . . I need some air." 


"You want us to take a walk?"  It didn't look like she'd get far.


"No, me.  I need, I need some space."


"Scully, no.  You shouldn't be alone.  We - “  He moved closer and she stepped back, her hands moved slightly as though to ward him off.


"I need some space, Mulder."  She sounded a little more like herself then.


"Scully, you've had a major shock.  You should - ”


She held her hand up again, and he stopped.  "Just for a few minutes."


"It's getting dark, Scully."  He tried one last time, but she was already heading for the door.  "Do you have your phone?"  But the door was closing behind her.  She'd walked out.  She needed 'space'.  He stood unable to move for the longest time.


When he emerged from the deepest of the dark space in his mind, he was able to move to the couch.  He wanted to chase after her, she was devastated - they’d taken the child they had created within her and then taken her ability to have children of her own.  She would never conceive their child.  She had lost her last chance.  But didn't she realize - so had he.


He watched the numbers change on the clock with growing fear.  He should never have allowed her to go off alone.  When the phone rang his heart leapt so violently it was painful.  "Scully?"


"Fox, it's Maggie."


"Is she there?"


"Yes.  Fox, what happened?  What's wrong?"


"Is she okay?"


"No!  She's terrible.  What is it?  Fox, talk to me."


"I, I need to come over."


"No.  She made me promise to keep you away.  It was the only way she'd let me call you."

He could feel the blood gush from some mortal, phantom wound. 




"She, we saw Jerry this afternoon."


"She's ill?"


"No, not like, Maggie, I can't -”


"Fox William Mulder, this is my daughter and you will tell me what's going on."  Mulder actually sat up straighter at her tone, a feat Skinner the ex-marine, had never achieved.


"Did," he swallowed, "Did you know we were trying to have a baby?"


"But, but you're not married."


He closed his eyes at the irony of a mother's statement.


"I've been working on that, trying to wear her down."


"Dana doesn't . . ." he could feel her mother shake herself. "So what did Jerry say?"


"Maggie -”


"Now!  Tell me!"


"Scully can't, she can't have children because, because of what was done to her . . ."


He heard the gasped sob, then caught the beginnings of a whispered prayer.  He didn't interrupt.


"I have to get back to her."


"Maggie, I need to see her."


"Not tonight, Fox.  I'll talk to her."


"Tell her, tell her I love her."


"I will."  Then she was gone.


The tiniest possible part of him was relieved.  She wasn't out on the street, mugged or, or worse.  She was hold up in the Scully compound with Maggie standing guard and she didn't want to see him.  She'd finally realized what he'd thought all along -  this was all his fault.




He heard the knocking on the door, but it had turned to pounding before he could force himself to his feet.


The shorter sandy haired man on the other side checked his next assault on the door when he saw Mulder's appearance.






"Yeah."  He let himself in.  "What the hell is going on?  I get a frantic call from Mom, I hop on the red-eye and find . . . Mulder what's happened?"


"How is she?"


Charlie shook his head, "She's just about through crying uncontrollably, now she's becoming zombified."  He stopped, there was no need to hurt this man further.  He was only a step above zombie himself.  He still had on the clothes he'd obviously worn yesterday, even the jacket.  Charlie was afraid to contemplate the pain he saw in this man's face.


"Come on."  He took Mulder's arm and led him back toward the couch.  "I'm gonna make us both some coffee and then we can talk.  Why don't you splash some water on your face."


Mulder may have nodded, he wasn't sure, but he did turn toward the bedroom.


When he emerged the coffee was ready.  He'd taken a quick shower and changed into jeans and t-shirt.  He took the cup Charlie held out to him.  Charlie settled on the couch and, after a moment, Mulder joined him.


"What did Scully say?"


"Nothing, literally.  And Mom was so tired I was afraid she'd drop.  I gave them both sleeping pills and put them to bed.  When I saw Dana I thought . . . hell, I thought you'd died.  I couldn't think of anything else . . . "


They sat in silence for a few minutes.  Charlie took a sip of coffee, but Mulder just stared at his.  "Mulder, talk to me.  What happened?"


Mulder shook his head.  "We . . . we saw her doctor last night."


Charlie slipped his mug on to the coffee table before he could drop it.  "Is . . . is my sister dying?"


Mulder looked up then, "No, no that's not . . . " his voice trailed off.


"Then what is it?"  Charlie leaned forward, urging an answer.


"We, we found out that because of what happened to her, her disappearance . . . she'll never be able to have children."


Charlie's eyes widened and he took in the tears slipping down Mulder's face.  "Oh god.  Are you sure?"


Mulder scrubbed at his face, "I . . . it looks that way."


"Oh shit."




Charlie met his eyes, "Mary's pregnant."


Mulder let his head fall toward his chest.  "Does Scully know?"


"No, we haven't told anyone."


"Please, not yet."


Charlie nodded.  "You two, you're together."


"I thought we were."


Charlie looked around the room.  Yeah, her touches were here.  He wasn't surprised she was living with him.  He'd seen their connection.


"Was there a problem?  I mean why was she even . . . "


"We were trying . . . "


Charlie blinked at that, but said nothing.  He was surprised but it really wasn't his business.  "Mulder, what did they do to her?"  Mulder shook his head.  "I, uh, I thought she was doing okay."  Mulder kept quiet.  "She's not," Charlie finally said.


"She's doing better."


"Better.  What I saw when I got here was not 'better'."


Mulder looked away.


"I'm not going anywhere.  These things they . . . they hurt her.  How is, how was she coping?"


"She . . . she has nightmares."


"Dana?  How often?"


"She's a lot better."


"How often?"


"It's rare she has more than one a night anymore."

Charlie's mouth opened in shock, he took a couple of breaths.  "Every night?"  Mulder nodded.  "What are the nightmares?” 


"She, uh, she's looking for me.  She's afraid I'm not real."


"What did they do to her?"  Mulder shook his head, "She's my sister, Mulder.  I need to know how I can help her."


"I need to talk to her, Charlie.  I need to see her."


"Mom asked me to get some things for her.  She's gonna stay over there for -  "


"No.  She's moving out?  Look, I just need to talk to her."


"Hey, Mulder, I think you should, but . . . man you didn't see her.  Hell, maybe you did, but she can't be forced right now."


"I won't, I just . . . I need to see her."


After a moment Charlie nodded.  "Let's get some things together, then head on over."




Charlie let them in and put Scully's bag next to the door.  His hope was that it never needed to be unpacked, but just in case . . .  "Sounds like they're still asleep."


Mulder nodded, relieved.  No one had seen her nightmares, they weren't something he especially wanted anyone to see.


"I'll run up, you just make yourself at home."  Charlie headed upstairs and Mulder stood in the arch leading to the living room, at a loss for what to do.


Charlie was back down almost immediately.  "Yeah, they're both still tucked in.  Can I get you anything?"


"No, I . . . "


"Yeah, I know.  Have a seat.  If you want to talk, I'm here."


Mulder nodded and took a corner of the couch, but he didn’t want to talk.  He kept glancing at the stairs.  After a few minutes, Charlie spoke.  “You want to go upstairs.”


“I need to, Charlie.  I need to be there when she wakes up.  I need to be there if she has a nightmare.”


Charlie looked torn.  He agreed with Mulder, but Dana had insisted he be kept away according to their mother.  Before he could make a decision, a scream split the air and he froze. Mulder reacted instantly and was half way up the stairs before Charlie realized the man had moved.


“Scully, Scully I’m here.  Wake up, it’s a dream.  I’m here.”  He held her tightly and was rocking her when Charlie entered the room. He watched stunned as his strong, always together, sister clutched at Mulder, sobbing into his chest.  He didn’t speak, but he didn’t leave either.


“Ssh, Scully.  Wake up, come on back to me.”


Charlie was watching Mulder now, he obviously had experience with this.  And he loved her.  Charlie watched him rock her and murmur comforting sounds into her ear and she relaxed, though her hands still gripped his shirt.  When her grip relaxed, Mulder made her comfortable against the pillows.  Her eyes had never opened.


“It’s over,” he whispered to Charlie.  “Maybe you better check on Maggie.”


Charlie nodded and moved out into the hall.  He met Mulder back there a few minutes later.  “She’s still asleep.”  Mulder nodded, pulling the door to Scully’s room to, but not closed.  “I think I need a drink.”  Charlie turned toward the stairs and after a last glance, Mulder followed.


Charlie poured himself a generous shot then offered the bottle to Mulder, who shook his head.  They sat at Maggie’s kitchen table and after a long drink, Charlie looked at Mulder.  “Was that the worse one she’s had?”


Mulder shook his head, “About typical.  Usually I’m closer now, I can see them coming and head some of it off.”




Mulder made no comment.  They were quiet then, just sitting together.  When his glass was empty, Charlie looked longingly at the bottle, but instead placed his glass in the sink.


He turned back to Mulder and started to speak, but saw Mulder’s head come up as he turned toward the door.  Scully walked in and Mulder rose to his feet, wanting to approach her, but afraid.  She was pale, but composed.


“I asked you not to come.”


“I know,” he answered simply.


She signed and glanced over at Charlie.  “Mom shouldn’t have called you.”


Charlie shrugged, “I don’t mind.”


She shook her head and finally sat in the chair Mulder held for her.


“I guess I’ll leave you two alone.”  Charlie left the kitchen.  Dana was too quiet, too composed.  It wasn’t good.


Mulder waited until Charlie had time to get out of earshot then, “Scully, don’t move out.”


“Mul -  “


“Please.  We should be together now.”


“No Mulder, we shouldn’t.”  She said it flatly, no emotion, but she obviously meant it.  “I had a nightmare, didn’t I?”  Mulder nodded, “And . . . and Charlie . . .”


“He saw it.  It scared him.”


“Well, he’ll be going home later today, so -  “


“What about your mother?”


“I won’t be staying here either.  I’ll get a place and -  “


“You have a place, Scully, with me.”


She shook her head.  “Could you go now.”  It wasn’t really a question.


“You need me, Scully and god knows I need you.  Please, this has been a shock to both of us, but we’re together, trying to . . . together.”


“Well we aren’t now.  Please.”  She rose and the fear caused his stomach to roil.  She . . . she sounded serious.  Surely she knew how much he loved her.  He’d been asking her to marry him for months.


He opened his mouth to speak, but she turned away and left the kitchen.


Charlie came in a couple of minutes later.  Mulder hadn’t been able to move.  The sympathy in his eyes caused Mulder to look away.


“Man, I hate it, but you better go.  Give her a little space.  She knows you love her, she really does, but right now . . . “


After a moment Mulder nodded.  “How long will you be here?”


“She wants me to leave too.”  Mulder closed his eyes.  “Look, she can’t really throw me out.  I can probably hang around until tomorrow.  I’ll . . . I’ll call you before I leave.”


Mulder nodded, “thanks.”  He walked toward the door then, no life in his step, hell, no life in his life. 


Chapter 5



"That's right, Scully.  Breathe, it's almost over."  She concentrated on the feel of his hands massaging her tight abdomen.  She could feel it ebbing and opened her eyes into the concerned face of Fox Mulder.


“That was a strong one, Scully." 


She nodded, letting her breathing come back to normal.  "How long?"


"We're under ten minutes.  Don't you think we should go on?"


She smiled then and finally nodded.  "An epidural is beginning to have some appeal."


He smiled then, "Good."  He'd wanted to go for some time.  He helped her to her feet and walked her to the door.  He grabbed up the suitcase beside the door, not releasing his hold on her.  She was grateful, that last one had been strong enough to unnerve her a little and his touch was comforting.


He seated her in the car and reached across to buckle her in himself.  He watched her smile of gratitude fade and he knelt beside the door, his hands on her again.  Her belly was rock hard.


"Stay on top of it Baby.  Breathe, that's it."


This one was lasting longer than the others.  She opened her eyes needing to see him as well as hear him.  The dashboard in front of her shimmered and seemed almost transparent for a moment.


"Scully?"  She had tensed up at the last moment.


Her hand met his and things were solid again.


"I think we need to go."  He didn't want to appear nervous, but he was.


She nodded and he rose to his feet.  It hadn't been anywhere near ten minutes.  He hurried around the car and started the engine.  As soon as he pulled out into traffic he had his hand on her again.  Her hand rested on top of his, but her eyes were closed, trusting him to handle everything else.


To her dismay, and she had to admit, fear, she could feel another one building.  They couldn’t even be out of sight of her building.


"Umm, Mu . . . " Her grip on his hand tightened.  She thought she heard him speak, but he sounded far away.   She forced her eyes open and tensed immediately, the car seemed to be fading, becoming transparent like before, but she wasn't able to blink it away.  Could pain cause this?


She turned her head; Mulder was really all she wanted to look at anyway.  To her horror, he was shimmering and going out of focus.  The level of pain ratcheted up several notches as she tensed.  It was as though she could see through him to somewhere else.


She wasn't doing the breathing, she couldn't get her breath.  It was like her body was in a vise.  What was happening?  She tried to bend forward, wrapping herself around the pain but she seemed to be immobilized by more than just the seatbelt.


She moaned, trying to say his name but he wasn't real anymore, like the car, she could see through him into something, somewhere.


*She can see me!*


The thought appeared in her head and she realized she was seeing a room, she wasn't in the car and Mulder . . . Where was Mulder!  The pain had receded slightly, though she knew not for long.  While she tried to get her breath under control, it would be worse if she hyperventilated; she forced herself to look around.


She wasn't in the car, she was in some sort of birthing chair, but she was strapped in.  Her hands were free to a point but her upper arms were pinned.


The being that she had heard in her mind moved into her view again and she focused on him.  "What's going on?  Where's Mulder?"


He drew back away from her as though startled that she had spoken.  His eyes widened impossibly large and continued to grow.  She must be hallucinating and another contraction was beginning to grip her.  No!  Whatever this was, she couldn't be here.  She couldn't have her baby like this!  Where was Mulder!


She flinched as she felt something cool touch her arm.  She looked down to the sight of long gray fingers pressing into her forearm.  She tried to move away from the touch, but the contraction had grown beyond what she could endure and she cried out in pain and fear.


The first man no longer looked like a man at all.  His large black eyes showed no emotion at all though for some reason she thought he was frightened of her.  None of that mattered as she felt the baby move down within her and she felt the urge to push.


"No!  Let me out of here!"  She struggled and her arms came free, released from whatever had held them.  Scully wrapped them around her swollen middle.  "Let me go!  Where's Mulder!  What's happening?"


Then she was bent double as the next contraction forced her to push.  She fought it but her body was in charge now.


There were other beings around her now.  She sensed even more that she couldn't see.   She couldn't stop the birth, any more than she could stop the rotation of the planet and she shrieked in pain and fury.


They crowded around and with the next contraction she felt the child being born.  The head was out and she gasped for breath before the next onslaught.  As she felt the shoulders leave her body she screamed his name.




She jerked awake, terrified and disoriented.  It took a moment to recognize her new bedroom, her new apartment.  She fell back against the pillow and let the tears flow.  The dream, she was having it nearly every time now.  The others had faded some, but this one only grew stronger.


Scully didn't bother to look at the clock.  It didn't matter anyway, she wouldn't sleep again tonight.  She pulled the covers tighter around her and curled into a fetal position to wait for daylight.




He was searching for her as his eyes flew open.  He was sitting up in the bed, his breath ragged as he wiped his hands across his eyes.  He couldn't remember a dream, but it must have been a bad one.  No, not a dream, he had heard Scully scream for him.


That was ridiculous, she wasn't here.  She wanted nothing to do with him.  God, the pull of her was strong.


He glanced over at the clock, 2:17 a.m.  He fell back against the pillow, staring into the darkness.  He didn’t remember a dream.  He shook his head; he was cursed with this memory.  As much as he wanted not to, he remembered his dreams.  He had heard Scully scream for him.


That settled it.  He rose from the bed and pulled his jeans on over his boxers.  He grabbed one of his gray t-shirts and some socks, then looked around for his shoes.  Once dressed, he jerked his jacket up and headed out.


Mulder knew where her apartment was.  He'd never been inside, but he knew the layout and which windows were hers.  He parked in the nearest space.  Her lights were on, but he saw no movement.  Come to think of it, her lights were on every time he'd come by, no matter how early or late.  Strange, he knew Scully had never slept with the lights on.  He hadn't needed them either when she was living with him.


He had no good excuse to knock on her door, though he tried to think of one.  Instead, he reclined the seat slightly and relaxed, letting his eyes close.  If she needed him, if she really screamed, he'd be there.




The knuckles against his window roused him and he opened bleary eyes to see the cop standing there.  Shit, he hadn't meant to fall asleep.  One would think all of those stakeouts over the years would give him enough practice.


The cop leaned down.  "Please step out of the car, sir."  Mulder started to reach for his ID.  The cop's flashlight aimed for his eyes.  "And keep your hands in sight."


Mulder sighed and opened the door, carefully keeping his hands away from his body.  "I’m armed, officer."


The policeman tensed slightly and put his hand on his own weapon.


Mulder opened his jacket wider to reveal his Sig.  "I’m with the Bureau."


"Right."  The cop removed the Sig from his holster and tucked it into his waistband at this back.  "Let's see some ID."


Mulder nodded and wearily pulled his badge from his pocket.  The cop took it and held it in the light.  "This is your name?"


Mulder sighed, "Yes."


"You want to explain to me why you're sleeping in your car here."  It wasn't a question.


"A friend of mine lives in this building.  I've been worried about her, so -  “


"So instead of knocking on her door, you watch her windows and fall asleep.  Forgive me if that sounds like stalking."


"I'm not stalking her.  She's been ill and I didn't want to disturb her."


"Right."  The cop nodded, clearly not believing a word.  "Well, we're going to disturb her now.  If she can identify you, and doesn't want me to haul you off, I'll let you go.  But you won't be sleeping out here."


"Listen, I'll just -  "


The cop shook his head, "You're not leaving until I know who you are and where I can find you."


Mulder scrubbed his face with his hand.  Great.  He followed the cop into the building and pointed to her apartment.  "Her name is Dana Scully.  She also works at the Bureau."


"She married?"




The cop's eyebrow rose at that response, but he held his tongue.  He knocked firmly on her door.  Very quickly they heard her response.  "Who is it?"


"Officer Spencer.  I'm holding my ID up, can you see it?"


"Yes.  Just a minute."


Shortly the door opened, "Is there a problem?"  Then she spotted Mulder.


He saw her for the first time in weeks and couldn't hide his dismay.  There were deep dark circles under her eyes and she had to be less than 100 pounds.


Officer Spencer obviously felt the same way.  "Ma'am, are you all right?  Is there someone I could call for you?"


"I'm fine.  What's going on?"


"Uh, I found this gentleman asleep in his car outside of your apartment.  He said you could identify and vouch for him."


Her eyebrow rose as she looked over at him.  Finally she sighed, "Yes, this is Special Agent Fox Mulder.  It's okay."


The officer stepped closer and lowered his voice.  "Listen, the truth, is this some sort of domestic problem?  I can haul him away if you - "


"No.  Really, it's okay."


The cop gave Mulder the once over again and sighed.  "Well, I'll get out of your way.  If you need anything, ma'am . . . "


"Thank you for checking."  She managed to smile at the officer and shut the door behind him, then turned to face Mulder.  "What are you doing here?"


He swallowed, not sure what to say.  She didn't want him here, she'd made that plain enough.  She's looked friendlier for the cop.


"I was worried about you."


"At 3:30 in the morning, you decided you were worried about me."


"Actually it was a little over an hour ago."  He tried to lighten the mood, but she just looked at him for a moment.  Then something seemed to pass through her eyes and she looked away.  He wanted to move to her, but he was here on sufferance.


"Look, Scully, I was asleep and, and I heard you scream my name."


She seemed to pale slightly but he wasn't sure.  "It . . . it was a dream - "


"Scully, I remember my dreams.  All of them.  I wasn't dreaming."


She looked away, then turned from him. His heart sank.  "Scully, I'm sorry.  I just, I needed to check.  I needed to know you were okay."  She said nothing, not even looking at him.  "Well, I . . . I'm sorry I disturbed you.  I'll get out of here, let you go back to bed."


Her head came up then and he saw the fleeting panic in her eyes.


"Listen, Scully, it's really late and I'm exhausted.  Would, would you let me crash here on your couch?  I'm only gonna get a couple of hours as it is."


"I'm not sure that's a good idea.”


"Scully, I won't bother you.  I'm not . . . I just want to sleep on your couch."


She stood there, clearly undecided.


"Please, Scully."


"Fine.  I'll get you a blanket."


"Thanks."  He watched her leave, then turned to look at the couch.  It was a new one, not at all like the one in her old apartment.  It was long enough for him to stretch out, even a little big for the room.  Had she had him in mind when she . . . no, that was too much to hope.


She returned to him with a pillow and blanket.  "Thanks."


Scully shrugged.


"You, uh, you look like you could use some sleep too."


"Mulder - "


He held up his hand, "I'm not . . . just sit here with me.  Come on, Scully, how many times have your fallen asleep sitting beside me on stakeout or in a car."


"I have a bed in the next room, Mulder."


"I know, but just for the few hours until dawn . . . Please, I'll sleep better knowing where you are."  He could see she was torn, but if she thought it was for his sake . . .


"Fine, but I need some sleep.  I have an autopsy at nine thirty."


He nodded and made himself comfortable in the corner of the sofa.  She sat beside him stiffly.  "Come on, Scully.  Just relax."  He pulled her against him gently and after a moment she relented.  He didn’t dare move, he was almost afraid to breathe.  Her head eased against his chest and he was startled to realize that she had already dropped off to sleep.  He would have thought that impossible if he hadn’t seen her.  He’d never seen her look so exhausted.  Maybe she could get in four or five hours anyway.




The sound of a voice roused him the next morning.  It took him a couple of seconds to realize it was Scully’s couch he slept on and Scully herself he slept under.  Then he realized the voice he heard was coming from her answering machine.


“ -  problems with the next of kin.  The autopsy has been canceled at this time.  As soon as we can reschedule, we’ll see if you’re available.  Thank you and we’ll be in touch.”


Mulder smiled to himself, now she could get some more sleep and so could he.  He settled her more comfortably and drifted back to sleep.


It was some time later when he woke again, and then because she was waking.  She squirmed, fighting morning, then as he watched, her eyes flew open and she looked up at him.  Her eyes widened and she struggled out of his arms.


“You were just going to nap.  A couple of hours.  I’ve missed my autopsy.”  She glanced at the clock.


“No.  Scully, they called to let you know it was canceled.  You don’t have to believe me, they left a message.”  He gestured toward the blinking light.  “I thought we could both use a little more rest.”


Instead of relaxing, she turned on her heel and disappeared into the bathroom.  Great, she was furious with him.  Did she not realize how much rest, damn necessary rest, she’d gotten?


When she emerged she wouldn’t even look at him, retreating to her bedroom.  He took over the bath, then went to the kitchen and started the coffee.


“I want you to leave.”


He hadn’t heard her enter the kitchen.


“Scully, nothing happened.”


“And it’s never going to.  I never should have let you in last night.”


“That cop would’ve hauled me away -  “  He started to smile.


“Maybe then you’d have gotten the message.”


His smile faded and his face became carefully impassive.  “Yeah, I guess I would have.  I’ll clear out.  Thank you for the sleep.”  He turned away from her and didn’t see the tears that suddenly filled her eyes.  He let himself out of the apartment without looking back.


He returned to his car with a heavy tread.  Had she called out for him last night?  It was feeling less likely in the light of day and she didn’t want him around, at least when she was awake.  He had to accept it.  He shouldn’t have given in to his impulse last night, but he’d been so sure . . . why had he thought time apart would . . . he shook his head and started the engine. He didn’t see her watching him from the window.




He threw himself into his work and for the next couple of days was at the office nearly around the clock.  If he wasn’t at home, if he wasn’t where they had spent so much time together, maybe he could start to forget.  No, he didn’t forget, but maybe he could move on.  He’d done it before, maybe not for someone that meant what she did, but he was used to being alone.  Those few weeks, months they had lived together, and the time they’d worked together prior to her abduction, were an aberration in his life.  He should have known.  He should have known it wasn’t . . . wasn’t what he’d imagined when she continually refused his proposals.


It was his fault, her abduction, her torture, her . . . her inability to ever have a child.  Just one more layer for him to live under.  It didn’t matter.  If she had what she wanted, what she needed - his absence, then . . . then she had it.  His lack of a life was a minor point, it wasn’t like he was used to having one.




She watched him leave her apartment with something like terror, unable to leave the window until he was out of sight.  She turned shakily to her phone machine and listened to the message.  He hadn’t lied to her, but then he never had.  Scully sank onto the couch and realized how rested she had felt when she had woken up in his arms that morning.  It was the first rest she could remember since leaving his apartment.


Why had he come?  He hadn’t ‘heard’ her scream.  That was ridiculous, but something kept bringing him back to her.  How could she stop him?  How could she get him to move on?  Did he not understand there was no possible future for him with her?  Her immortality was gone, taken from her.  Maybe she would have chosen not to have children, but that would have been her decision.  The choice had been taken.  He needed to find someone else.


Enough, she rose from the couch and began getting ready for her day.  Once at Quantico, she almost immediately ran into her new supervisor.  "Dr. Scully," he smiled at her, "I was going to apologize for canceling your autopsy at the last minute, but you obviously got some rest, so I'm not going to."


"Excuse me?"


"Well, I have to admit you've been looking rather tired lately.  I was actually thinking of offering to write you a script for some Seconal, but -  "


"Uh, actually, Dr. Petersen, I would appreciate that.  I have been having a little trouble sleeping lately."


"Of course, we all have it occasionally.  What do you think, five capsules?"


"Yes, I think that would be more than enough to get over this.  Thank you for your concern."


"Not at all.  I'm very impressed with your work.  I don't need you getting sick."  He scribbled out the prescription and handed it to her.  Before he could speak again, he was hailed from the other end of the hall and excused himself with a smile, shaking his head.


Scully looked at the small piece of paper, then folded it carefully and went to her office.  In her desk she found the exact pen that Dr. Petersen had used and, with her door locked, carefully changed the prescription to 25 pills.  She marveled that her hand didn't even shake.  She couldn't say she'd planned this, but when the opportunity landed in her lap . . .




He sat in Skinner's office listening to the other agent drone on.  Mostly he was trying to figure out why he was being punished.  Surely he had nothing to add to this gathering.  Of course, he felt that way about everything right now. 


It had been nearly a week since he'd made a fool of himself for the last time with Scully.  Heard her call for him in the night - yeah, sure.


Why was he dwelling on that today?  Probably because of the sparkling conversation going on around him.  He did better when he kept busy. He'd even made plans with the guys for tomorrow, just to have stimulation.  Laundry and house cleaning didn't get it.  When he was alone, thoughts of her were always with him, so don't be alone or quiet or still.  Besides it hurt too much anyway.  He'd even gone to happy hour once this week - a mistake, true, but it had gotten him through a few more hours of his life.  Experts said eventually one would recover.  That didn't explain him still searching for his sister after 20+ years.  Oh this line of thought was helpful . . .


Besides she hadn't called for him.  It was just his yearning to see her and he was more vulnerable to it when alone or asleep.  God, he could feel the tug of her now.  That admission caused the feeling to grow and he fidgeted in the chair.  Skinner glanced over at him, but said nothing.


He moved in the chair again, this time actually looking behind him.  Pay attention, idiot. Or you'll be attending these forever.  But the feeling didn't go away.  It was strong - his need to see her.  What had triggered it so sharply?  He wasn't going, she'd made it clear as crystal she didn't want him there.  Crystal.  She had a small crystal vase that reflected the light.  She'd kept it on the bedside table when she lived with him, often using it as a paperweight.  He could see it now with a small note under it.  He moved uneasily and Skinner shot him another look.


Without warning, the urge, the need to see her flooded him and without realizing it, he was on his feet.  The urgency overriding his good intentions to stay away.


"Agent Mulder?"


"I'm sorry, there's somewhere I have to be."


"Excuse me?"  Skinner stared at him. The look in Mulder's eyes brought him to his feet.  "Could we step outside?"


Mulder nodded, following him.  Anything that got him closer to his car.


"Are you ill?"


"No, no I just, I have to leave."


"What is it?"


"I can't explain.  I just - call me Spooky and just let me go.  I'll . . . I'll call you."


Skinner looked at the younger man.  He was already inching toward the outer door of the suite.  He was going to bolt at any second and Skinner could see that no threat was going to stop him.  He nodded and opened his mouth to remind him to check in, but Mulder was already out of the door and sprinting for the stairs.  What the hell?




The feeling of panic didn't diminish when he made his escape.  If anything, it intensified and he broke several laws making his way to Scully's apartment - his FBI parking tag in plain view.


He 'parked' in two spaces in front of her building, grateful everyone was at work.  Her car was neatly parked in its normal slot.  Why wasn't she at work?  He took the stairs three at a time, having already decided not to mess with the manager.  He was going in and if he had to kick down the door, so be it.


Instead he nearly fell into the apartment when he tried the knob and found the place unlocked.  "Scully?"  He shut the door behind him and had his gun out - the panic was trying desperately to overwhelm him now.  He headed straight to her bedroom and there she lay, in her silk pajamas on top of the carefully made bed.  Her hands were folded over her abdomen and his steps faltered.  She looked so 'peaceful', like his grandmother at her funeral.


Oh god.


He was beside her then, feeling for a pulse - yes! And he saw her breasts move as she took a shallow breath.  Then his eye was caught by the small piece of crystal, holding down a note, just as he'd seen in Skinner's office.  Beside it was a prescription bottle and several capsules.  A prescription . . . He had the bottle in hand and - what . . . Secobarbital, Seconal.  "Scully, no!"  He had her

face in his hands, tapping her cheeks.  "Scully, can you hear me?"


"Mmph no."


His knees nearly gave way.  No he didn't have time.  He hauled her off of the bed, forcing her to walk as he talked, babbling to her the whole time.  He walked her into her bath and pushed her down to her knees in front of the toilet, then shoved his fingers down her throat to force her to vomit.


"Come on Scully!  Wake up!"  He scanned the mess, several capsules completely undissolved and several partials.  Her stomach had apparently been empty except for the pills.  How many had she taken?  And what were they?


He wet a cloth and dabbed at her face.  She was totally groggy.  What the hell was that medicine his mother always kept on hand to make them throw up if they swallowed something bad? Ipecac?  Yeah.  She was a doctor, she must have some.  He jerked open her medicine cabinet and spotted the small amber bottle.  Yes!


He pulled it out and broke the seal.  "Scully, drink this."


She tried to pull away, but he was in no mood to be gentle and forced her to drink it.  When she was finished being sick the second time, he cleaned her up again.  Then he pulled her to her feet to walk her around.  She was still too out of it for him.  He glanced at her shower, then made his decision.  He pulled off his clothes as she tried to steady herself against the sink.


He stripped her as well and turned on the water in her shower.  He moved her into it without waiting for it to warm up.  She struggled feebly against him, but she was no match for his strength.  At least she was waking up.  "Mulder, please."


When she spoke, he finally turned off the water.  He stepped out and lifted her out after him.  He draped a towel around her and then wrapped a towel around his own waist.


"I'll get your robe."  He left her then, taking his clothes with him, and she looked at herself in the mirror.  She picked up another towel and blotted her hair from dripping into her eyes, then picked up her toothbrush with a shaking hand, moving by rote.


He pulled on his slacks, then opened her closet and pulled out her robe. Finally he picked up the prescription bottle again.  There were three pills in it and two on the bedside table.  He spotted one on the floor.  He'd need to find them all eventually.  The note was there, but he didn't touch it.


Six pills out of twenty-five.  His hand was shaking so badly that he recapped the bottle to keep from spilling the six pills he had found.  He fisted his hand around the bottle and returned to her.  She dropped the toothbrush into the cup on the side of the sink and hung her head.  He switched the robe for the towel and turned her to walk to the kitchen.


"I'm going to make you some coffee."


"No, Mul . . . don’t."


"You drink it or I call 911."


"I don't need 911."


"Fine, then I'll call your mother."


"No!"  That roused her.


"Don't you think she'd rather be told her baby girl committed suicide by someone she knows rather than a stranger?"


"I didn't commit - "


"Right, attempted suicide.  I'll be sure and make that point."


"Mulder, please."


He turned his back on her then, and started the coffee.  She couldn't watch him, and closed her eyes.  She didn't open them again until he placed the coffee on the table beside her.  Before she could lift it to her lips, he lost it.


"What the hell were you thinking!"


"I . . . I wasn't . . . it was stupid."


"You're fucking right about that!  This would have killed your mother, destroyed Charles, what - "


"I wasn't thinking about them!"  She shot back at him.


"So what were you thinking about!" he shouted back.


"You!  You won't move on.  You're not seeing anyone, you need to - "


"Hold it, I'm not seeing anyone?  What the . . . you tried to kill yourself to get rid of me?"  He stared at her.


"You won't move past me.  I . . . I thought if I was gone you would . . ."


He stared at her, his mouth open.  Then he closed his eyes, and shaking his head, sank to the floor at her feet.  "you were taking Seconal so that I would . . . "  He let his head fall into his hands.


"How do you know what I took?"


He looked up then, "Because I have a matching bottle at my place."


"Mulder, no!"


"What, it's okay for you to do it, but not me?"


"Is that, is that why you . . . why you have it?"


He sighed, at least she was awake and talking.  "I got them when you were . . . gone."  Her eyes were wide, "I didn't . . . obviously I didn't go through with it.  I . . . I couldn't, not when there was a chance you would come back to me."


Scully looked away then, "Is that why, why you . . . why you won't move on?  You think you owe me?”


"I don't 'move on' because I don't want to move on.  I won't move on because I still have hope you'll come to your senses and come back to me.  I don't move on because without you I'm not whole!"  His voice rose with each sentence.  He tried to calm himself a little, "Scully, when we worked together and then when we worked together without their knowledge - Scully, that was the first time I can remember that I felt . . . real, whole.  And I wake up every morning hoping that this is the day that you, that you . . . " He just stared up at her. 


Tears spilled from her eyes then.  "But you deserve so much more."


He looked at her, puzzled.  "There isn't any more.  There couldn't be.  I only want you."


She looked deeply into his eyes then and allowed herself to see what he'd been trying to show her.  A sob escaped her then and she slid from the chair into his arms.  He buried his face into her throat.


"Scully, if you're going to go through with this, you need to tell me, because I have to go out and buy adjoining plots.  There's no way I could make it, even to your funeral - not if there’s no chance of getting you back."


She hiccupped a sob and burrowed into his chest.


"Scully, I know you're suffering, but you have to let me back in.  You have to let me help you."


"You'll never have children."


"Hey, I happen to believe that fewer Mulders on the planet is a good thing.  And it does give you an exclusive - think about it."


She gave a shaky chuckle.


"Seriously, Scully, I don't know what's going to happen.  I can't see the future, but that year we worked together changed my life.  The year you were, were gone changed both of ours.  I just know that whatever happens next year or the year after that, will be better if I have you with me.  Please, Scully, let's see what the next years bring, together."


He meant it and she could hear that.  God, what a stupid mistake she'd almost made.  But he'd heard her cry for him even then.  There was a connection, and she might as well face it.  He had a point, the time they’d spent together was . . . she couldn’t say their future was necessarily together, but there should be a future.  A year with him . . . what kind of difference could a year make? 



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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.